Skip to main content

Written Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower to Parliamentary Question on employers' attitudes towards hiring of older workers

Notice paper no. 608 of 2017 for the sitting on 03 April 2017

Question no. 439 for written answer

MP: Er Dr Lee Bee Wah

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether any study has been done to look into local employers’ attitudes towards hiring older workers especially in the IT sector; (b) how many complaints has the Ministry received in the past 3 years on employment practices against older workers; and (c) what is being done to actively engage employers to encourage them to accept qualified older hires.


  1. From a 2016 survey conducted by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), about 7 in 10 employers were willing to redesign job scopes to accommodate older workers. This is also evident from the employment rate of older residents aged 55-64 which has steadily increased over the last 5 years, from 64.0% in 2012 to 67.3% in 2016. We are already among the top in terms of employment rate of older workers aged 55-64, compared to other OECD countries. Specifically for the ICT sector, which Er Dr Lee asked about, the share of older workers remained stable over the same period.
  2. In the last three years, TAFEP and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has, on average, received less than 80 age discrimination complaints against employers per year. This constituted about 10% of the total complaints received by TAFEP and MOM each year. Age discrimination complaints involving workers from the IT sector form around 7% of all age discrimination complaints. For cases with clear evidence of age discrimination, MOM had further investigated and taken action against the errant employers, including curtailment of their work pass privileges. TAFEP had also engaged these employers to help them rectify their employment practices. 
  3. Older workers are assets to the workforce. To change mindsets, TAFEP runs campaigns to raise awareness of the value that older workers bring to the workforce. 
  4. However, some employers may still be concerned about the suitability of older jobseekers. To help overcome this, the Career Support Programme under the Adapt and Grow initiative provides greater wage support to employers who hire mature PMETs. We have also increased salary support for mature PMETs who participate in Professional Conversion Programmes, so as to encourage employers to tap on the pool of experienced and skilled PMETs.
  5. Older workers must also play their part to continually upskill, reskill and deep-skill to enhance their employability. Skills upgrading is the best safeguard for older workers during this period of economic and job transformation. We encourage older workers to take advantage of the various Government training schemes such as SkillsFuture and Adapt & Grow.