Long hours and new work technologies among challenges faced by older workers in Singapore


SINGAPORE, July 3 (The Straits Times/ANN): Some older workers here have a tough time adjusting to new work processes and technologies, while others cannot put in long hours due to personal or health reasons.

Some are also worried that their supervisors favour their younger colleagues when it comes to job opportunities, according to a survey commissioned by The Sunday Times which polled 172 employed workers aged 60 and above last month.

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From last Friday (July 1), the statutory retirement age in Singapore was raised from 62 to 63, and the re-employment age from 67 to 68. It is part of a gradual increase that will set the retirement age at 65 and the re-employment age at 70 by 2030.

But the move also raises various concerns, such as the health of older workers.

Linda Teo, country manager of ManpowerGroup Singapore, said older workers have different needs. “They may want to be re-employed but switch to a role with fewer responsibilities within the organisation,” she added. “Some may also prefer working part-time instead of full-time.”

The poll by consumer research firm Milieu Insight also found that many senior workers believe they can mentor their young colleagues. They are also willing to stay in their jobs for longer, have a strong work ethic and can offer different perspectives.

Organisations interviewed highlighted the diversity which older workers bring to the workplace.

At SingHealth, for example, the proportion of such workers has been rising steadily every year. At present, 6 per cent of its employees are aged 62 and above.

Esther Tan, group chief human resource officer of SingHealth, said: “These employees have an invaluable wealth of knowledge and skills… which provide a measure of stability to their teams and play an important role in coaching and mentoring the next generation of healthcare professionals.”

Observers believe there is no better time to raise the age caps, even as companies slowly recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many sectors are ramping up their business activities, but have trouble securing manpower.

For instance, the hospitality sector is struggling to hire enough people to cater to the rise in tourist numbers, said Ms Teo. Some hotels have had to block off rooms due to insufficient staff. Being able to hire older workers can help fill roles such as housekeeping and the front desk.

“Lifting the age cap will also help reduce our reliance on foreign manpower… even though employers will still need to source externally to make up for the missing headcount,” she added.

Meanwhile, Singapore reported 7,952 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday night (July 2), bringing the total tally to 1,461,107.

Of the new cases, 765 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 7,187 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 733 were local transmissions and 32 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 6,906 local transmissions and 281 imported cases.

A total of 559 cases are currently warded in hospitals, with 11 cases in intensive care units.

One death was reported from COVID-19 on Saturday, taking the total death toll to 1,416, the ministry said. – Xinhua

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Long hours and new work technologies among challenges faced by older workers in Singapore

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