DENMARK - Pensionskassernes Administration (PKA) has highlighted the need for a more flexible pension for Denmark's health workers, to try and avoid a skills shortage in the future.

A survey by the firm, Denmark's largest occupational pension fund administrator, revealed 40% of members aged over 50 planned to retire either before or just after the retirement age of 62, while about half plan to continue working.

However, PKA claimed 60% of respondents would "certainly" or "strongly consider" working a few extra years if they could receive a partial pension, while working less hours but being able to continue contributing to the scheme.

Earlier research by PKA has revealed up to 50,000 members from the healthcare sector aged over 50 could retire in the next 10 years - a rise of more than 10,000 in the last two years - which the firm claimed is a "big problem as there is already a shortage of workers in the sector".

As a result, PKA said it wanted to show it "would be better to make a flexible pension in Denmark, and get these members to work a few hours a week, then to lose them completely form the healthcare system".

A spokesman for PKA said the newsletter, in which the results of the survey were published, is designed to stimulate discussions about whether a more flexible solution is needed, and how it can be developed, in an effort to get away from the idea that "you either work or you retire".

He added the research stemmed from comments by members and organisations suggesting some of those about to retire or in their senior years would still like to be in the workplace but not full-time. 

Peter Damgaard Jensen, chief executive of PKA, admitted the firm could develop a solution for members so they could receive a partial pension while working, but warned unions and other organisations in the labour market would need to support the idea.

However PKA also pointed out the solution would need to be economically advantageous for members, particularly in terms of taxation, as "there is not much point for members if the tax system makes it a bad economic deal".

Damgaard Jensen added: "When there is already a great staff shortage in the country's hospitals, and developments suggest that it will be much worse in the future, there is a need for action, which may motivate employees to work a year or two extra.

"If our members can be encouraged to it with a more flexible pension scheme than the one we know today, it is clearly something we will look seriously at."

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