Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 05/03/2013 00:13 | By Channel NewsAsia

Older workers an untapped resource: analysts

Older workers an untapped resource: analysts

Older workers an untapped resource: analysts

SINGAPORE: Human resource experts say working past the retirement age makes economic sense as Singaporeans are living longer and retirement is getting costlier.

But they add that not everyone wants to work until they are 70.

At Friday's May Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government is looking into providing more support to older workers who want to work beyond retirement and the employers who hire them.

Ms Jenny Toh’s employers offered to re-employ her with no pay-cut two years ago when she turned 62, the retirement age in Singapore.

She however turned down the offer.

She said: "I really want to enjoy life a bit more. But you also cannot just enjoy life too much. My greatest fear is that I would lose my memory, so if you start working, doing something, you'll at least stay mentally active, and that's very important."

That is why Ms Toh chose to work as a freelance trainer for older workers seeking re-employment.

She said: "If you want employers to employ you, then you must play your part. You have to make sure that when you finally reach 62, your employer says, ‘this person is very good, die die we must take this person. Because of good work attitude and health.’"

Statistics show that only 4.1 per cent of Singapore's resident workforce in 2012 is 65 or older, and in Singapore's tight labour market, experts say that is a significant manpower pool to tap on.

David Ang, executive director of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, said: "Some of them will be living beyond 70, so there's a lot of economic life available in Singaporeans. Health has improved a lot and the older ones particularly are healthier these days, so they should consider going back to work because they can contribute."

For re-employment to work for both employees and employers, analysts say job redesign is essential to make it possible and productive for retiring workers to keep working.

In sectors like education and healthcare where experience count, giving older workers a training role can help businesses reduce the learning curve of new recruits, said Human Capital CEO Ho Geok Choo.

But to get retirees back to work, some say salary has to be compelling.

Ho Geok Choo, CEO of Human Capital Singapore, said: "We must be paying for the worth of the job. I guess we have been using foreign talent resources for a long time. And that inevitably has made it easy for Singaporean employers to lean on the foreign workforce. But if we are prepared to actually make the compensation more attractive for the local workforce, I suppose many would step forward."

With continuing curbs on foreign manpower, experts say hiring older workers makes economic sense for employers as well.   - CNA/jc

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