Singapore employers urged to help mature workers stay employed

Xinhua News

All parties have a role to play to help mature workers stay employed in Singapore, a Singapore official said on Thursday.

Honoring three employers who have implemented age-friendly policies in their organizations, Singapore’s Minister for Prime Minister’s Office Lim Boon Heng said that in a labor scare country like Singapore, employers need to understand that older workers are increasingly assets that they should tap on.

Singapore has one of the fastest aging societies in the world, with residents aged 50 and above expected to double to 1.8 million by 2030, or 40 percent of the population.

“Our employment rate for workers aged 55 to 64 years is 57 percent today. So we still have a long way to go to reach our target of 65 percent by 2012,” he said.

To tackle this, he said that the government has put in place many schemes aimed at helping people work longer. One of the key initiatives is the Re-employment Legislation, which will take effect in 2012.

Another example is the “ADVANTAGE! Scheme” which started in 2005, which has seen more than 1,200 companies committing to recruit over 5,300 mature workers, retain 19,300 older workers and re-employ 8,800 older workers.

However, he acknowledged that there is only so much legislation and schemes can do.

He urged employers to explore ways to harness the wisdom and years of experience that these mature workers bring with them, while older workers have to take responsibility to remain employable by staying current with the changing economic environment.

“With an aging population looming ahead, organizations need to start exploring flexible work arrangements for mature workers,” he said. “This is in addition to having to combat ageism in recruitment and retention practices. Employers also need to recognize that retraining and retaining older workers can also make good business sense,” said the minister.

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