But older workers see high employment rates
Singapore’s workforce is ageing “quickly,” according to Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan. “As we live longer, we can expect this proportion to continue to grow,” he said in a speech last week.
Over the last decade, the proportion of residents aged 60 and above in the labour force has increased from 5.5% in 2006 to 13% in 2016, government figures showed.
But the employment rate of older residents aged 55-64 has increased from 64% in 2012 to 67% in 2016. Singapore has one of the highest employment rates in the world for persons aged 65 and over, according to the minister.
He said many older workers want to continue to work for as long as they can, to earn a regular income, and keep themselves active. “And employers recognise that, in our tight labour market, older workers, with their years of experience, reliability and loyalty, are a valuable asset at the workplace.”
Starting 1 July this year, the re-employment age will be raised from 65 to 67 in order to meet the age group’s aspirations – and the government has introduced initiatives over the past years to ensure age-friendly workplaces.
In 2013, it introduced “WorkPro” to support companies in implementing age-friendly practices and redesigning workplaces to create easier, safer and smarter jobs for older workers. It enhanced the program in July last year to provide companies with greater support in job redesign. Employers can now receive funding up to $300,000, up from $150,000 under the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant.
According to Tan’s figures, more than 200 companies have made use of the Job Redesign Grant, and close to 4,000 older workers aged 50 and above stand to benefit from the efforts.
The minister believes technology is a “key enabler” for older workers, as it helps automate routine and physically demanding tasks. About 95% of the job redesign projects the government has supported are technology-related enhancements.
About 70% of employers are willing to redesign job scopes to accommodate older workers, according to a 2016 survey by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).
TAFEP and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has, on average, received less than 80 age discrimination complaints against employers per year, said Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say las April. “This constituted about 10% of the total complaints received by TAFEP and MOM each year.”
The government will raise the re-employment age to 67 from 65 starting July 1. The policy will apply to workers younger than 65 during the day it takes effect.