South Africa is in a state of transition. Political and social change, economic conditions, modernisation and
urbanisation, are affecting the position and social conditions of the elderly and eroding their traditional role
and care giving structures. More and more people are also forced to take early retirement as a result of
restructuring and downsizing in companies. It has become very important that people make provision for
their own futures by planning and preparing for retirement, if they want to enjoy quality of life and life
satisfaction in retirement. This is especially important for blue-collar workers that form the bottom end of
the income spectrum.
An absence of retirement preparation programmes that can appropriately address the needs of blue-collar
workers, prompted this research.
The researcher used an exploratory-descriptive research design to explore blue-collar workers perceptions
of retirement, their expectations as well as their level of preparedness. The ultimate goal of the research
was to make recommendations for the development of a retirement preparation programme for blue-collar
workers. The research was conducted with a sample of blue-collar workers of the Alpha group and
included workers from both its urban and rural operations
Research findings indicated that blue-collar workers' perceptions of a "happy retiremenf' centre mainly
around physiological and security needs such as "to enjoy good health" and having a home and a secure
Expectations reflected ambivalence between the "old " or "traditional" and the "emerging" or "new''
paradigms. It was concluded that expectations are in most instances not in line with " real life situations"
as experienced by the elderly in the country.
An exploration of the research subjects' degree of awareness and knowledge of matters that will affect their
retirement planning, such as knowledge of Medical Aid rules and benefits, Retirement Fund rules and benefits, savings and investment options and home-ownership, revealed a grim picture. It was therefore
concluded that blue-collar workers lack sufficient knowledge to adequately prepare for retirement.
It was recommend that retirement preparation should be seen as a block by block building process that
should be addressed through out a person's working life. It should form an integral part of all efforts and
initiatives at the work-place, aimed at developing, enabling and empowering employees of alllevel