The demographic makeup of Singapore has literally turned on its head in the space of a generation. In 1970, there was one over 65 year old on the island for every thirty people under that age. In 2015 the 65 and older age group made up one in every eight members of society. It is expected, that in 2030, they will make up a quarter of the population.
A lot has been written and spoken about both the causes (predominately the fact Singapore is a developed nation with good healthcare, living and working conditions), and the potential problems that lay in store (an increasingly smaller proportion of the population paying for the rest), but there is a topic related to this that is steadily gaining traction.
An obvious solution to the “problem” of an aging population is if members of that demographic were able to actively contribute to their own and indeed their country’s well-being. The issue with this was that the jobs that were deemed suitable for the older members of society were always the same, they tended to be low on skill, low on pay, and low on stimulation. Gradually though, there has been a move by businesses to utilise this group of people, to use their wealth of skills, experience and knowledge. More and more organisations are realizing that if they are able to be flexible, this older generation can make a very real contribution to their business and society in general, and not just from behind the till at their local Cold Storage or FairPrice.
An employer has to recognise the fact that as people age, there are certain tasks that they will no longer be able to perform, be that due to a decrease in dexterity, physical strength or knowledge of new technology. But this does not mean that they are unable to perform tasks and roles that don’t involve such duties. By redesigning a person’s role to eliminate the areas that they are no longer able to perform as well, and instead concentrating on those aspects of the role that they are still very much able to perform, provides a win win situation. The company retains a valuable member of its workforce, one who is not only able and motivated, but one that comes with a vast amount of knowledge and experience. The employee is happy, as they are doing a job they love, are contributing to their and their family’s well being, and are keeping his or her mind and body active – a valuable thing in itself.
There are an increasing number of companies in all industries who are embracing this approach, and with the government’s help and backing – with schemes such as Employer Alliance, it is something that can only go from strength to strength.
Of course, not everyone will want to work in their twilight years, and they should certainly not feel pressured to, but for those that feel they still have several more years to give, it is vital that they are given a choice and an opportunity to do so.
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