Providing older people with the support they deserve 

28/09/2023

Population ageing is a global phenomenon, and Singapore is no exception to the coming of this silver tsunami. As a result, our demographics will officially enter ‘super aged’ status by 2026. In numbers, that means at least 21% of the population will be aged 65 and above.  

But despite the negativity associated with ageing, it is not all doom and gloom. After all, as Minister of Manpower Dr Tan See Leng shared at the PAPSG International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) commemorative event, age is just a number that does not reflect our cognitive and physical abilities as we live longer and healthier lives.  

PAPSG Chairman Dr Tan See Leng with age-friendly employer Mr Deepak Anandani, CEO of Radha Export Pte Ltd; and senior employee Mr Ang Koon Hong, Warehouse Operator at IGUS Singapore Pte Ltd, at the PAPSG International Day of Older Persons commemorative event.

For that reason, the PAP is determined to push the boundaries and challenge outdated stereotypes about seniors, especially assumptions about them being less capable, set in their ways or needing to take more time off due to poor health. All of which can make it difficult for older workers to find suitable employment even if they want to contribute positively and stay engaged.   

Developing age-friendly culture and workplaces 

So far, one of the many senior-related causes the PAP has been championing is senior employment and employability. That is because while an ageing workforce might come with challenges, the value, expertise and knowledge they bring are invaluable. And with the Singaporean workforce getting older, it is all the more important to break down the prejudice and barriers older workers face, whether through an increase in retirement and re-employment age or legislation to tackle ageism.  

But beyond these top-down initiatives, we need employers to reconsider how they view older workers. In a recent survey conducted by PAPSG, respondents aged 50 and above have lamented that one of the top challenges they face is age discrimination and negative employer attitudes.  

Unfortunately, to change such a mindset would take more than laws and policies. Instead, it requires a cultural shift in how society perceives older workers, something the PAP is pushing for with the 3Rs (Respect, Regard, and Recognition) as an anchoring theme to build up an age-friendly culture at work and beyond.  

Dr Tan See Leng, MP Yeo Wan Ling with 12 corporates who have reaffirmed their commitment to age-friendly workplace practices.

The good news is – attitudes are changing, and businesses are realising the value of hiring older workers. During the IDOP commemorative event, 12 companies have reaffirmed their commitment to age-friendly workplace practices, pledging to raise retirement and re-employment age and adopting a flexible work arrangement to help staff balance their family and work commitments.  

Finally, it is also worth noting that the push for age-friendly workplaces will benefit everyone, not just seniors. Because in doing so, we are also building a collective vision for a future where age is no longer a roadblock in pursuing one’s dreams and generations can come together to enrich the lives of one another. 

Picture Source: Tan See Leng via Facebook