Senior Minister of State calls for progressive workplaces

by Hannah Norton10 Jul 2015
Age management is a relatively new field in Singapore, according to the Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health, Dr Amy Khor.

But, with a rapidly ageing population, the field is something HR leaders simply cannot ignore.

“The median age of the resident labour force today is 43, compared to 40 just a decade ago and it will continue to rise,” Dr Khor said at the Age Management Seminar 2015 on Wednesday.

“With more than one in five resident workers aged 55 and above, it is important to tap on the wealth of experience and skills of our older workers, who will make up an increasing share of the workforce.”

Her sentiments are echoed by one Singapore employer, who actively engages in practices to retain older workers – from having massage chairs to fishing trips to pairing staff with Gen-Y employees.

“Mature employees are valuable assets to the organisation as they are able to share their wealth of experience with the younger generation,” Royal Plaza on Scotts chief experience officer Patrick Fiat recently told HRD Singapore.

“They are a source of committed and reliable workforce, which can be tapped on to fill in the gaps for the labour crunch.”

But, according to Dr Khor, age is still a prevalent consideration in some employers’ hiring practices.

“The training participation rate for older workers is also lower compared to that of other workers,” she said. 

“As such, older workers face more barriers to good employment outcomes than younger workers, and their skills and experience are often undervalued in the labour market.”

An integral part of good management was also about investing in the skills development of all employees, and ensuring that all employees are given fair opportunities to pursue lifelong learning, regardless of their age, she said.

“The SkillsFuture movement provides avenues for employers to upskill and reskill their workers.”

Dr Khor urged HR directors to create progressive workplaces where all employees can achieve their potential without being disadvantaged by age.

“Businesses should recruit people based on their skills and competencies, and not age.”

The benefits of engaging mature age workers

Knowledge: Older workers have often accumulated a wealth of knowledge, experience and skills during their time in the workforce

Desirable traits: Generally, mature workers are highly dependable and committed with more life experience and wisdom 

Established networks and external experiences: They have assets which also add value to business

Workplace training and mentoring: Mature age workers’ wealth of knowledge and experience are valuable resources in workplace training and mentoring programs, helping businesses save costs on staff development and knowledge transfer

Matching profiles with customer base: As the population ages, mature age employees will increasingly reflect the profiles of your customer base, allowing the, to better empathise with and meet the needs of your customers

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