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MOM: Efforts Carried Out to Increase Employment Opportunities for The Elderly

  • Ministry of Manpower (20 June 2007): MOM: Efforts Carried Out to Increase Employment Opportunities for the Elderly
  • Berita Harian (13 June 2007): Give Jobs to Suit The Capabilities of The Elderly


MOM: Efforts Carried Out to Increase Employment Opportunities for The Elderly    
- Berita Harian, 20 June 2007

Please refer to the letter "Give jobs to suit the capabilities of the elderly" by Mohd Ikhlash Abd (BH, 13 June 07).

2.   Enhancing the employability of older workers requires the concerted effort of both employers and workers. Older workers must remain productive through skills upgrading and be willing to take on different jobs. At the same time, companies need to review their work processes to facilitate older workers to work longer.

3.   One of the key thrusts of the Tripartite Committee on the Employability of Older Workers (Tricom) is to expand employment opportunities for older workers. As a result of the Tricom's recommendation, the ADVANTAGE! Scheme was introduced in October 2005 to support companies to recruit and retain mature workers as well as to re-employ them beyond the retirement age of 62. Companies could tap on the ADVANTAGE! scheme to help them introduce age-friendly initiatives such as job re-design, automation, wage restructuring, training and introduction of re-employment policies in the workplace.

4.   As of end April 2007, 411 companies have adopted ADVANTAGE!, including hotels, F&B, retail, logistics, healthcare and finance companies.  These companies will need to report key outcomes pertaining to the recruitment of new workers aged 40 and above; retention of existing staff aged 55-61; and re-employment of existing staff aged 62 and above.

5.   To incentivise older low wage workers to work, the Government has also institutionalised Workfare and introduced the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Scheme. Under the scheme, those aged above 45 years and earning $1,000 or less will receive more WIS, although coverage is also extended to those above 35 years who earn $1,500 or less. The Tricom has further proposed that the Government consider giving low wage workers above 55 years a higher WIS payout when the scheme is reviewed in 3 years' time. This will provide older low wage workers with a greater incentive to work, more take home pay and further build up their retirement adequacy.

6.   The Ministry of Manpower and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency will continue to work with our tripartite partners, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation, to explore ways to improve the employment of older workers.


Give Jobs to Suit The Capabilities of The Elderly
- Berita Harian, 13 June 2007

Often, we hear that many middle-aged workers have to work till their last breath and in fact, these moans come from these middle-aged workers themselves. This was because for this group of workers, the word "retirement" does not exist in their life dictionary. They are also not able to put any age expectation to retire, bearing in mind that in Singapore's living context, the cost of living requires a person, with insufficient savings to continue working. On top of that, costs for medical and healthcare, daily needs, family expenses, school education and others are always increasing. This demands them to continue upgrading themselves with new and relevant skills so that they can have wider and guaranteed employment opportunities. In the past, with the pension scheme, one could enjoy their retirement with that pension scheme, which is now obsolete. Many who are in their 70s are still required to work.

Even though the act on anti-discriminatory practices has been revised, how many 'big' companies out there are willing to offer employment opportunities for this group of people? What is normally available for them are jobs as cleaners in places such as the hawker centres, fast-food restaurants and shopping centres. Incomes earned as cleaners are still haunting the daily costs for this group of workers. Consequently, we will see them doing part-time such as collecting boxes, empty cans and old newspapers as additional income.

On this issue, it has been Singapore's principle to provide them the net rather than the fish so that each individual can be more independent than creating a crutch mentality amongst some Singaporeans. A few countries in the West provide welfare schemes in terms of cash for the unemployed and as a result, the cost borne by the government increases from time to time. However, Singapore provides assistance when necessary for cases which require specific attention, especially for those unemployed elderly citizens. This would include co-operations from voluntary organisations, religious groups, and local civil bodies.

Besides proposing that the grant for the ADVANTAGE! Scheme be increased, how does the Tripartite Committee for the Employability of Older Workers (Tricom), ensure that companies have clear retirement policies to prevent workers from being lost as their retirement draws near, in line with efforts to increase the retirement age beyond 62? Apart from urging all parties, especially the older workers to have a mindset change, what is also important is how to encourage more companies to further expand employment opportunities so that older workers can find jobs easily and remain employed.

Maybe it would not be too extreme if the government could consider a welfare scheme for the elderly citizens so that this group can enjoy their retirement. This could also  prevent issues brought up by Mr Zainal Ahmad, who wrote to BH's forum page on 12 May, "Hope MUIS and MCYS can explain begging issue". The solution to the begging issue is not welfare bodies, like what MUIS and MCYS said in their reply, (6 Jun). Instead what is more important is employment opportunities and a comfortable working place which suits the capabilities and the abilities of the elderly to carry out the given tasks.