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Shanmugaratnam blasts HR in Budget attack on ageism

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Ben Abbott | 25 Feb 2015, 06:16 AM Agree 0
HR leaders have been urged by Deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam to stop their “unstated discrimination” against older workers looking for jobs.
  • Pansy Long | 25 Feb 2015, 10:20 AM Agree 1
    Older workers aged above 60 years faced challenges when they want to make a job move.
    Despite their age, most of them have a wealth of experience, which can be used to mentor their younger associates.
  • Julie | 25 Feb 2015, 11:32 AM Agree 1
    I agree with Deputy PM. I am in my late 40s and fortunately, my manager is Swiss and is enlightened. Otherwise, if the HR was a local 20 or 30 something, I would be set aside because I am considered "too old". I wonder how these "young" people would feel if other HR told their parents who lose their jobs that they are "too old". May be we should look at the entire HR profession and elevate the professionalism and capability. Most are administrators who simply follow instruction from managers who want "energetic" employees. In many ways. Singapore HR practices are archaic and stuck in the 70s. While MNCs bring the "forward thinking" HR professionals from the developed countries to Singapore, these HR professionals also bring their "local" perceptions into the market. One of them is long tenures and PMETs who may have explored challenges and moved with the times are often also set aside. Thus, while our government can beseech these HR professionals to be enlightened, most are just paying lip service and have very little authority or even motivation to buck the trend and do what is relevant.
  • M K Liew | 25 Feb 2015, 01:12 PM Agree 0
    Matured PMEs must also themselves to blame .. they too have to shift their mindsets ... eg .. seeking job opportunities outside Singapore especially with the push towards regionalisation/globalisations for Singapore companies .. especially in Myanmar

    When unemployed PMEs are ask to consider such overseas postings .. many do not even bother to consider at all
  • JS | 25 Feb 2015, 03:40 PM Agree 0
    Do not blame HR for not employing older workers as HR will take instructions from departments head who want to hire younger people!
  • DM | 26 Feb 2015, 02:54 PM Agree 0
    HR professionals, more often than not are just simply following policies set by their organisations. And organisation has such policy because which organisation do not vie for "young, passionate and dynamic" employees? And what's wrong with that, even our country's leaders are constantly replacing older cabinet members with younger members of parliament. If mind-sets need to be changed, then HR professionals as the change agent should seek out old, passionate and dynamic employee who is willing to accept the salary of a younger person and proved to the organisation that such a person indeed exists.
  • Local Local | 17 Mar 2015, 11:09 AM Agree 1
    Discrimination in Singapore is prevailing in many work places, not just against ageism but also nationality. In many large multinational financial institutions for instance, they are 'reserving' senior positions for young talents from the headquarters who do not have relevant management and Asian experience. Their expat packages are extremely high - big enough to hire 3 to 4 locals. Yet their local subordinates have to teach and support many of these incompetent foreign bosses who are extremely good in managing upwards and perception, rather than putting efforts in contributing to the organisation.
  • Concern for Older Workers | 06 May 2015, 10:46 AM Agree 1
    The root issue needs to be addressed.
    There needs to be enforceable checks and balances in place to ensure HR practices are not biased against older workers. If necessary government policies around this should be made and implemented to ensure lapses do not occur.
  • Mrinal | 21 Dec 2015, 11:41 AM Agree 0
    Agree with Julie, who commented earlier. Ronald Regan once said, "For political purposes, I am not going to make 'age' an issue against the youth and inexperience of my opponent". We know he was one of the most successful Presidents of the United States!
  • Gene | 13 Jan 2016, 10:18 AM Agree 0
    At times it's not so much of ageism but budget, the recruiting department may be constrained in hiring someone too senior who may not wish to go below a certain monthly base salary due to family commitments, etc. There's more than just one reason behind this one issue
  • Steven Yeong | 27 Jan 2016, 10:17 AM Agree 1
    No point for Tharman to blast HR professionals. If the government does not legislate and only issues guidelines, employers will just not care.
    • LCK | 21 Jun 2016, 10:57 AM Agree 0
      i agree strong legislation has to be implemented. Examples

      1) all interviewees above 40 who have been unemployed but actively searching jobs CAN FILE to TAFEP MULTIPLE complaint cases of no hire; without the need of supporting documentation.

      2) all companies MUST FILL a quota of Singaporean CITIZENS age over 40 across all openings from different departments in order to qualify for tax benefits throughout 12 months.
      Supporting documentation MUST BE furnished to Government. Otherwise tax benefits given by Government will automatically be taken away during the following year
  • Jen Tan | 01 Feb 2016, 12:56 AM Agree 1
    Whilst I agree with Deputy PM on ageism and the value of workers in their 40s and 50s, I wonder if MOM has actually done a survey to find out how many HR positions are held by foreigners versus Singaporeans. In a HR seminar attended by a HR colleague, a show of hands indicated more than half of the attendees were none Singaporeans. Now that was really sobering! If HR positions are in the hands of foreigners how can we be assured that locals have equal opportunity as foreigners in securing the job. My personal experience being in HR for over 18 years and I have been continuously turned away from numerous job application for various reasons from "low energy, role not challenging compared to your previous role, role is much smaller than your previous role, related industry experience" etc. all my 18 years experience was not of value to in house recruiters and/or hiring managers yet their advert states over 10 years of experience required in various HR function preferred. The government wants to increase the retirement age to 67 which is great but where are the jobs? I met many people in various communities and there are plenty of people in their 40s and 50s who are willing and able to work but they cannot find any work despite looking for over a year. In Indonesia, foreigners are not allowed to hold HR positions but in Singapore there are increasing more foreigners in HR, even in junior executive roles, so are we really surprised that locals and PR only got 100 jobs of the 31,800 jobs created last year? So Deputy PM, please rectify this so you can hold local HR professionals accountable.
  • Unemployed | 07 Apr 2016, 10:31 PM Agree 1
    Recent articles revealed that the number of people being laid off in 2015, 71% comprises of PMEs. If this statistics is based only on the number retrenchment being reported to MOM, then the percentage could be higher. I'm in my late 40s and was laid off last year too but my ex-employer refused to treat my case as retrenchment or redundancy. They insisted that this was a termination of employment due to company restructuring which they intend to replace my managerial post with a young executive. So, the real number of laid offs could be more shocking to the nation. My ex-HR leader was neither a foreigner nor a young HR professional, she is a local who is in her late 50s! “Unstated discrimination” do exist in many organisations and it is not the sole responsibility of the HR professionals.

    HR professionals can provide ways of helping those outgoing staff by giving longer notice, provide transition period to scale down their pay, help find another employer of the same industry etc. For recruitment, HR professionals can suggest to Management to recruit "Senior Interns" on contract basis so that employers can avoid high turnover and training cost of recruiting a fresh job seekers. Job seekers in their 40s who are experienced with little training required are also ready to accept lower pay jobs and I'm sure they would not leave so easily during poor market situation.

    Government needs to review its Employment Act to protect local staff eg making sure retrenchment benefit can help laid off workers to sustain while job hunting . Government should next shift their emphasis on workers in mid-40s to 50s looking at designing new schemes like "Senior Interns" to encourage employment of this group of workers.

    As for workers of this group, I'm sure majority of us are well aware by now of how bad the current market is and many of us are willing to take the plunge in pay package. Frankly, I personally prefer to have lower income than no income.
  • Malimin | 17 Jun 2016, 08:44 PM Agree 0
    Mr Tharman may want some quiet 'undercover' research done on government departments who themselves don't hire people over 40. I applied to a certain Ministry and received a rejection, even before being interviewed.

    Also, you have all these job hunting sites like Jobs DB, Monster etc that make it mandatory for your age to be given. The government job portal called Jobsbank wants you to give every single piece of information, including your age and IC number. That the begining of the end for the older worker.

    I am qualified, experienced, well presented, have a good attitude, physically fit and dont look or behave 57. Most people think im in my 40s.
    In my CV, i removed all the earlier years, and dont put my age. Still they go through the CV and see that Ive been working for 20 years so no doubt they guess I am over 40. I've been unemployed for 2 years , doing odd jobs here and there to pay the rent and desperately trying to get some clients of my own as a consultant. I have a multitude of talents, experience and skills and apply for whatever i know i can do for sure and do well.

    There was a comment on this page about older people's mindset. . When one is reading a CV, does one KNOW of the candidate's mindset? If they don't even LOOK at the CV twice, how will they know the 'mindset'? Also, if HR people have a pre-conceived notion that all older workers have a certain 'mindset', we are all doomed as we have been judged and sentenced before even being met!
    If i was invited for an interview, the HR or Hiring Manager would see i have no issue working with younger, older, more/less qualified/experienced people. I just want to do a job well and fend for myself.

    The other thing people need to also really think about is the older person needs the job MORE to feed the family. The young person has a roof over his or her head provided by the parents. Is the younger person going to take care of the unemployed parent financially?

    I hope the government will take stronger measures to ensure older workers are employed AND paid a fair wage.

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