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Set up system to help older workers break out of comfort zone

An elderly man walking in the central business district.
An elderly man walking in the central business district.PHOTO: ST FILE

Many developed countries, such as the United States, have a longer history of entrepreneurship and innovation, backed by rich natural resources.

They also have a greater depth of experience and skills to tap because of their larger population and brain gain over the years ("Pisa and the creativity puzzle"; Dec 25, 2016).

Historically, Singapore's educational system is largely influenced by the human capital model and seeks to produce workers to support economic blueprints and growth.

We are good workers for the industrial and even the information age. This is one reason why many multinational companies invested in Singapore.

Our appropriately educated young people have what it takes to capitalise on the disruptive future.

However, the people from the baby-boomer generation and even Generation Xers may have to take calculated risks and move out of their comfort zones to catch up with the times.

Besides offering SkillsFuture credits to these potentially vulnerable workers, we also have to encourage them to continue to re-skill and retool themselves to make new breakthroughs, set up businesses, enter markets and seize opportunities.

For instance, we could set up a learning management system on a national level to motivate and guide Singaporeans on their lifelong learning journey and to improve learning outcomes.

After the Committee on the Future Economy publishes its report, I trust that the authorities will continue to foster more collaborations by leveraging resources from the public, private and people sectors.

We need to balance top-down initiatives with more bottom-up and peer-to-peer initiatives to shape and influence the ecosystem to support a learning nation of dream-chasers, value-multipliers and change-makers.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 01, 2017, with the headline 'Set up system to help older workers break out of comfort zone'. Print Edition | Subscribe