Singapore’s elders in labor force are not giving way to millennials any time soon

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Photo: YouTube screengrab

Singapore’s millennials have to wait in line, since older generations are holding on to their jobs longer than ever, and are not likely to make way for younger folks anytime soon.

Indeed, the country’s labor force is working more years than ever. While the official retirement age is 62, a law was introduced in 2012 requiring businesses to offer older workers the opportunity to be re-employed until the age of 65. Last year, this age was adjusted to 67.

Many seniors, therefore, are taking advantage of this opportunity. Some have done it out of the desire to stay active and fit, others because of financial need.

And the country has benefited as well. Due to low birth rates, a rapidly aging population as well as a longer life expectancy, older workers have more and more filled the gap when it comes to manpower needs. 

Randolph Tan, an economist at Singapore University of Social Sciences said, “The economy requires the participation of older workers because of demographic changes. There are fewer young workers today compared to the past.”

Added to the advantages of Singapore’s older workers is that they’ve received better education and healthcare, which allows them to keep on working into their sixties and even beyond, should they choose to do so.

In 2006, the percentage of workers ages 65 and older was only at 14.3 percent. By last year, this figure had increased to 26.8 percent. In fact, Singapore is the number two employer of older workers in Asia, beat only by South Korea, whose labor force is made up of  31.5 percent of workers ages 65 and above.

Worldwide, Singapore is number 5 on the list of top countries that employ older workers, following Iceland (40.5 percent), Korea (31.5  percent), Colombia (30.5 percent), and Mexico (27 percent). Japan, whose population is aging even more quickly than others, has a labor force that employs 22.8 percent senior workers.

In the long run, seniors could add as much as S$ 2.741 trillion (US$2 trillion) to the country’s GDP, according to a report published last year. And the government has done its part in helping seniors make adjustments  in the workplace, with initiatives such as the Age Management Grant, which allows for $20,000 per company in helping business owners apply changes to make business practices more age-friendly.