By: Raymond Anthony Fernando
It is encouraging that the newly appointed Labour chief Ng Chee Meng has suggested forming a tripartite committee to provide better support for our ageing workforce, and to help mature workers to continue working if they choose to (“Ng Chee Meng pledges to address struggles of low-wage, mature and middle-aged workers, May 15, 2018”, MediaCorp’s Today newspaper).
I believe Chee Meng is a suitable choice as he does make the effort to reply, (once through his executive), when I put forward a useful suggestion to him during his stint at the Education ministry. Another minister who is touch with the ground is Heng Chee How who was at one time my mayor, a kind, humble and down-to-earth man. That is how ministers and MPs can gain the trust and confidence in the electorate.
Indeed, the mindset of employers has to be changed if we want to help older Singaporeans lead more meaningful and productive lives.
When older Singaporeans are unemployed for long periods, for sure they will lose key social support that includes loss in income, little or no recreation and no friends to socialise with. In the worse-case scenario, depression and serious health issues will surface for this group who are bound to feel isolated and uncared for.
Feedback from bosses and companies have revealed that there is a tendency for young graduates and those fresh on the job to job hop and show insufficient workplace enthusiasm and commitment towards their work.
Yet, this is not the case with many older Singaporeans and those with special needs, who have stayed loyal to the companies that they have worked for. In addition, with their wealth of experience, older workers are well positioned to mentor the younger ones. By hiring older workers, they can instill in younger workers that deep sense of company loyalty that will reduce cost whenever staff turnover rate becomes a regular affair.
To lead by example, I propose that the Public Service Division (PSD) starts hiring older Singaporeans. With PSD being the largest employer in Singapore, many displaced older Singaporean workers can once again find employment, purpose in life and contribute to the growth of our economy.
With Education Minister Ong Ye Kung inviting Singaporeans to step forward with ideas and suggestions, some of our experience older workers who have contributed in this area to their companies can nurture younger civil servants to embrace ‘bright’ and ‘bold’ ideas.
Not all graduates in the public sector have the ability to write well, to articulate their replies to the public is a friendly manner, and where there are policies put in place, know how to explain the rationale behind it. To this end, hiring older retired Singaporeans who have excellent writing skills will be an assist to the government agencies they serve.
PM Lee spoke in Parliament on elitism today, Wednesday 16th May 2018 and I am glad he was surfaced this issue. Thus, it is vital that all MPs and ministers make the effort to reply to members of the public who take time to drawn up constructive solutions to growing problems. Unfortunately, only a handful of political holders do so. This creates the impression that elitism is still very much alive.
We must encourage active citizenry – for it is PEOPLE and IDEAS that make a nation.
I’d like to add here that the provision of part-time work can be offered to allow older workers more flexibility in their work life as they age.
On all accounts, we should promote the idea to employers who may be skeptical of hiring seniors, that turning away older workers is a waste of human capital. In working towards achieving this goal, we will gain ground as employers realise that discrimination is wrong – not just for legal or moral reasons, but for business reasons as well.
Let’s have enlightened employers who can contribute to making Singapore an inclusive society – where no one is left behind,
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNNADO