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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower & Senior Minister of State, National Development, to Parliamentary Question on Senior Citizens Performing Physically Demanding Jobs

Ms Tan Su Shan: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower (a) what is the number of senior citizens aged 60 and above who are currently employed in manual jobs that are physically demanding such as road sweepers and cleaners; and (b) whether there are any plans to re-deploy some of them into more service-oriented jobs that are less taxing on them.

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:

  1. MOM does not define and categorise jobs by whether they are physically demanding or not, nor find it practical to do so. The nature of jobs varies across industries and companies, even for jobs with the same title. In June 2012, 45% of resident workers aged 60 and over worked in the category of Production & Transport Operators, Cleaners & Labourers or related occupations, which generally tend to consist of jobs that may be comparatively more physically demanding. This is due in part to the lower educational profile of our older workers.
  2. The type of jobs suitable for workers depends on many factors, such as the worker’s skill sets, physical abilities and preferences. While we do not actively re-deploy older workers into any particular jobs or industries, we tailor the job placement assistance that we provide to meet each job seeker’s circumstances and needs. For instance, WDA’s Career Centres are sensitive to the needs and requirements of each individual, including senior citizens. Our Career Consultants adopt a case-management approach to help each client based on his individual capabilities, circumstances, physical abilities and job preferences. We also provide information to workers and job seekers to help them make more informed job choices. In addition, we help those who wish to change jobs do so, by referring them to other jobs and helping them acquire the relevant skills.
  3. Given our ageing population, the proportion of older workers will increase across all industries over time. Therefore, more importantly, we need to prepare employers and workers for this demographic shift in our workforce. Employers need to redesign their jobs and work processes to better match the capabilities and needs of older workers. This will help older workers to continue to work effectively in their respective occupations. Job-redesign not only helps to make jobs less physically demanding, it can also increase productivity through process improvements.
  4. We are committed to helping employers adapt to this new environment. Employers should tap on the funding provided under the recently launched WorkPro programme to redesign their jobs. WorkPro also provides support for flexible work arrangements, which aims to help employees achieve better work-life harmony. Together with our tripartite partners, we will continue to help employers develop progressive workplace practices, so as to maximise the potential of our workforce.