Aging Singapore: City-state helps corporations retain staff previous retirement age

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Mohsin Khan remains to be at his job repairing plane hydraulics components though the Singaporean turns 75 in a few months.

Soliano Paulina, 75, makes a call on the counter at Smaland, a play space for kids at Ikea, in Singapore December 14, 2018. Picture taken December 14, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su

His technical abilities are prized by his employer, and as his eyesight deteriorated barely, the corporate invested about two years in the past in a S$11,000 ($8,140) laser-marker machine that uses a big display screen to help emboss numbers in tiny font on metallic plates.

About 80 p.c of the cash was backed by Singapore’s ‘job-redesign’ grant, one among a number of government schemes to help companies with older employees. For his employer, Aerospace Component Engineering Services (ACE Services), the grant helps retain staff like Khan whose abilities are tough to interchange.

Khan says he remains employed and paid a wage lengthy after his contemporaries had retired. “I didn’t wish to be idling at home – doing nothing and spending cash,” he mentioned.

Tiny Singapore, one of many wealthiest nations in Asia, is seen as a take a look at mattress for a way governments sort out getting old points. Its inhabitants is the second-fastest getting old on the planet after South Korea, in response to U.N. figures, and the global monetary hub is rising extra depending on its older residents as start charges fall and international labor is restricted.

“Governments must look after the wants of their getting old inhabitants, and allow older staff to work longer and keep productive,” Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat mentioned this week.

(GRAPHIC: Aging Singapore :

More than 650 companies in Singapore have made use of the as much as S$300,000 ($221,174) job redesign grant since 2016. Other schemes embrace wage offsets to employers of older staff and a grant to undertake progressive age administration practices.

In most international locations, it’s left to the personal sector to attempt to preserve the skilled staff they want, though Asia’s two different quickly getting old nations – Japan and South Korea – do present grants and subsidies to corporations for his or her older staff.

Philip O’Keefe, a lead economist on the World Bank, mentioned Singapore – the place the government has a status for innovation and long-term planning – is “a really fascinating laboratory”.

He mentioned Singapore’s multi-cultural society, in contrast with South Korea and Japan, and sizeable international workforce made the nation a take a look at case that may be watched by others. Other specialists say Singapore additionally has the advantage of its small measurement and the fiscal area to strive totally different incentives.


Suffering from excessive employees turnover, Life Cleaning Pte was on the hunt for tools that would cut back the bodily burden on its staff, most of whom are 50 to 70 years outdated, mentioned Roy Tan, a senior business growth supervisor on the Singapore firm.

It used the government grant to purchase cleansing tools for prime surfaces, fitted with a digital camera and display screen, making it much less harmful for older employees who would have needed to climb scaffolding beforehand.

A ride-on cleaner, which permits the consumer to drive on a cart fitted with sweepers, meant its staff spent much less time strolling.

Tan mentioned his workers used to grouse about “leg ache, again ache, in all places ache” however now they don’t complain anymore.

Another funding was a battery-operated cart to maneuver heavy rubbish bins. Lee Thian Kok, a 67-year outdated worker, says he has been capable of full his duties a few hours earlier since he began driving the cart a number of months in the past.

“I used to push the bins with my naked fingers which took much more effort,” Lee mentioned.

The city-state, the place the retirement age is 62, requires companies to supply eligible workers the choice of continuous to work till they’re 67 years outdated.

Some companies such as global insurance coverage agency Prudential (PRU.L) have scrapped the retirement age for his or her Singapore workers. Training for managers at Prudential now consists of the right way to have conversations with workers no matter age.

“There can be conditions like: how do I take care of somebody who will not be performing and who’s like my dad or mum?” mentioned Sheela Parakkal, the chief human useful resource officer at Prudential Singapore.


The employment fee for everlasting residents and Singaporeans 65 and over – the so-called pioneers who lived by the tip of British rule and the island’s break with Malaysia within the 1960s – reached 27 p.c final year from about 16 p.c a decade in the past.

Besides the government schemes and employers trying to retain staff, many older folks search for jobs after retirement as a result of Singapore is usually ranked because the world’s most costly nation and life expectancy is near 83 – the third highest on the planet.

Many residents complain the government’s retirement financial savings scheme doesn’t present sufficient cash.

“If I don’t work, the place will my earnings come from?” mentioned 71 year-old Mary Lim, one among many aged cleaners incomes a meager wage clearing as much as 400 plates a day at a foodstall in Singapore’s Chinatown.

“If I stop my work, how will I survive?”

The government’s Central Provident Fund has received plaudits for the method it enlists residents to place apart cash to fund their retirement, healthcare and housing prices however accounts run dry after low-income earners spend on medical payments and purchase a public housing condominium.

Lim mentioned her “largest worry” was that sooner or later she received’t “have energy left” to do her job.

Meanwhile, Khan’s employer, ACE Services, is anxious about shedding its skilled employees, with 10 of its 47 workers over 50.

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Brian Hunter, the overall supervisor, mentioned work on the firm was extremely expert and it took a very long time to coach employees. It has additionally grown tough to draw youthful employees who’re drawn to jobs in banking and know-how.

The firm’s insurance policies, such as versatile working hours, are already bearing fruit: attrition charges have dropped from 5 staff per year in 2016 to a few at present.

“For us to have the ability to retain the older abilities, it is vitally essential to us,” Hunter mentioned.

Additional reporting by Hayoung Choi in SEOUL, Stanley White in TOKYO and Florence Tan in SINGAPORE; Editing by John Geddie and Raju Gopalakrishnan

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