National Day Rally 2019: Time to counter ageism in the workplace

22 August, 2019

Professor Wei-Jun Jean Yeung (NUS Department of Sociology), in an editorial in The Straits Times, talks about the need to counter ageism and integrate the silver workforce better amidst the National Day Rally announcements to increase the retirement age and re-employment age to 65 and 70, respectively, by 2030. Prof Yeung believes the changes are inevitable since they help compensate for shrinking working-age populations due to declining fertility rates and fulfil the aspirations of those who wish to work longer for financial and/or social-psychological reasons.

Indeed, Prof Yeung states that mature workers will become Singapore’s major and valuable source of talent in the next two decades, even with technological advances that improve productivity. Her thoughts are backed up by research with colleagues on China, which showed that China’s human capital and labour market will benefit substantially from extending the retirement age. To emulate these results in Singapore, we have to practise “productive ageing” – engaging older adults in productive activities across familial, communal, and societal domains. Current policies to retrain older workers through the SkillsFuture initiative help facilitate this.

However, ageism in Singapore’s workplaces continues to work against the employment of older workers. This is despite extensive evidence which shows that physical ability and cognitive skills do not decline markedly until between 70 and 80 years old. Reiterating that the upcoming policy shifts are inevitable, Prof Yeung urges the government, employers, and workers of all ages to make necessary adjustments to integrate older adults, cultivate Singapore’s silver human capital, and prevent them from becoming lost talents and burdens.

Read the full article here.