Tripartite support for HRDs in an ageing workforce

by Miklos Bolza22 Jul 2015
As Singapore’s workforce grows older, it presents some unique challenges to local HR executives. Forty eight per cent of all unemployed residents are aged 40 or over according to the latest figures by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) meaning that a total of 26,100 individuals are without work. This means there is a large pool of talent available, many of whom are professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) just waiting to be recruited.

Support for older PMEs began in 2012 when the government’s Retirement and Re-Employment Act was introduced. This set the minimum retirement age to 62 years with additional benefits of up to 3% of an employee’s wages if they were voluntarily re-hired while aged 65 and above. In a speech in March 2015, Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, said that MOM remained committed to providing “opportunities for older workers who are willing and able to continue working”. The latest figures show the success of government initiatives such as these with employment rates for Singaporeans aged 55-64 and 65-69 at 66% and 40% respectively. Both rates had increased from their 2013 levels. “This is encouraging as it shows that employers find value in their older employees,” Dr Khor said.

With regards to current HRDs and how they can make better use of workers aged 40 and above, the Tripartite Committee for Low-Wage Workers and Inclusive Growth (TriCom) has been working with both the government and local employers on three main “thrusts” which can be implemented to create a more productive workplace for those 40 years and older:
  • Improving corporate practices for older staff
  • Boosting the skills of this older demographic
  • Reinforcing positive perceptions of older workers
Additionally, a new Career Support Programme (CSP) by the Workforce Development Agency will “encourage employers to tap [into] the wealth of experience that mature Singaporean PMEs can bring to the workplace”. This CSP will be launched on 1 October and piloted for two years during which time organisations recruiting older workers unemployed for fewer than six months will gain the following levels of wage support.
 
  For PMEs from 40 to 50 years For PMEs 50 years and older
Wage support (1st six months) 20% of gross monthly salary (capped at $1,400/month) 40% of gross monthly salary (capped at $2,800/month)
Wage support (2nd six months) 10% of gross monthly salary (capped at $700/month) 20% of gross monthly salary (capped at $1,400/month)

To further assist older workers when settling into their new positions, the CSP will require employers to “provide structured on-the-job training or send them for external training”. This falls in line with TriCom’s three main objectives to create better workplaces for older workers.

It is hoped these initiatives will increase the re-entry rate back into the workforce. With 64.3% of redundancies occurring to those 40 years and older, the government wants employers to tap into this talent pool and encourage reemployment as soon as possible. Some positive ground is being made in this area with 53% of those aged 40 and above finding new employment within six months of their redundancies. This is lower than the total national average, however, so some work still needs to be done in order to boost the recruitment of older PMEs by local employers.

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