Let’s face it. We all grow old.
And when we grow old, a whole lot of new problems come.
Illness, our bodies slow down, loss of independence, and of course, loss of jobs.
Already, workers in their 40s and 50s are facing difficulty finding a job when they are retrenched in today’s labour market. I can’t imagine what it is like for mature workers above the age of 60 who are able to work and want to work.
As it is now, employers are required to offer re-employment to eligible employees who turn 62, up to age 65.
But the Ministry of Manpower announced in April 2016 that the re-employment age will be raised from 65 to 67 from July 2017.
Of course, workers can decide that they want to work. But will companies want to hire these mature workers?
What sort of support are given to companies to encourage them to hire mature workers?
Just yesterday, the MOM and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) announced that more funding will be given to employers to make workplaces and jobs more mature-friendly for workers aged 50 and older.
Beyond that, the Tripartite Committee on the Employability of Older Workers (Tricom) also issued a set of revised Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Employees.
Yes, the government, the unions and the employers have done their part to issue these guidelines and improve certain support programmes to encourage companies to make workplaces more mature-friendly, and to redesign their jobs to accommodate mature workers. But it is still up to businesses to reemploy mature workers.
Workers above the age of 60 currently form 12% of the resident labour force, a 5.5% increase from 10 years ago.
And of course, we all know that Singapore is facing an ageing issue. There are two or fewer working adults supporting elderly dependents.
This also means that there is an increasing number of workers who are 50 years and above.
It doesn’t help that our Total Fertility Rate is on the decrease.
The only way to help the workforce issue as NTUC Deputy Secretary General Heng Chee How puts it, is for companies to optimise the use of their manpower, especially the mature workers, “who possess valuable knowledge and experience in their jobs”.
“We urge all companies to prepare and redesign their workplaces to one that is ageless, so that they are better positioned to tap on the knowledge and experience of mature workers.” – NTUC Deputy Secretary General Heng Chee How
The Chinese have a saying “家有一老, 如有一宝”, which means having an elder in your home is like having a treasure at home. Certainly, older workers possess the experience that many younger workers can learn. Indeed, having a mature worker at the workplace is like having a treasure in the company.