Singapore—In an interview with CNA938’s Arnold Gay and Yasmin Jonkers on August 28, Wednesday, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo called the country’s older workers an “untapped pool of manpower.”
She said that it’s necessary for employers to talk about retirement and re-employment to workers early, when workers are in their 40’s in order to make sure of a smooth transition later on, including discussing re-skilling and redeployment for older workers so they can keep working longer.
The Manpower Minister’s comments come in the wake of the recent announcement from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally Speech that by 2030, the retirement age of 62 will be progressively raised to 65, and the re-eployment age, currently at 67, will be raised to 70.
The corresponding Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions rates for workers in the older age brackets will also be raised accordingly.
Ms Teo said “One of the things that came out in the discussions is – the employers said – if my older workers are going to stay with us longer, we cannot wait until they are 62 to start this conversation about reskilling, or redeployment.
“That conversation has to start a lot earlier, not even at age 60, not even at age 55. Probably even in their 40s, we should be thinking as to how they can be meaningfully deployed 10, 15 years down the road.
Because the skills development doesn’t happen overnight, and you also have to motivate the workers.”
Ms Teo also touched on the fact that the Government is giving a decade for the full implementation of the amendments to the retirement age, re-employment age, and CPF contributions, giving employers ample time for adjustments.
“One of the things the work group was very mindful of is that if they up the speed too much, then employers did not have enough time to adjust, then the whole process could backfire.
You could, in fact, end up impacting the employability of older workers in a big way, because employers are not ready. And that what could happen is that from employer standpoint – don’t even wait till 62 or 63, or 64, 65. Even in the 50s, employers are already a little bit concerned.
The workgroup decided that it was important to let the employers have a clear sense of where the endpoint would be, and how far and how fast we could arrive there. So that they would make the preparations, and that would be the most balanced way of trying to achieve the objectives,” she added.
She reiterated that most people desire to continue to work so that they can stay active and keep on contributing to society.
“Most people by this time of their careers feel that they have already fulfilled their responsibilities to family.
Some of them have made the (mind-set) shift that what they really want to do is to help the younger colleagues succeed … The employers who are able to create those opportunities, I think they then earn for themselves very loyal staff.”
Ms Teo called senior workers “an untapped pool of manpower.”
“If you look at it from the employers’ standpoint, (older workers are) an untapped pool of manpower. If we were somehow able to organise work to allow job sharing (for two workers) … both are happy and you kept both in the workforce.
In Singapore, I think fortunately we are in a good position where we can actually make plans for the future.” /TISG