Don't stereotype older workers

I wonder where and how Mr Simon Owen Khoo Kim San obtained the information for his letter ("Difficulties in hiring older workers"; Oct 23).

Mr Khoo's arguments seem based on presumption, without any solid evidence or statistics to substantiate his claims.

It is wrong to jump to the conclusion that many employers are reluctant to hire older workers.

The 2013 survey report by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices on the value of mature workers to organisations found that the attitudes of employers towards mature workers are overwhelming positive: 98 per cent of them highly value their knowledge and skills, and 71 per cent disagree that mature workers cost organisations more money.

In terms of the value of age to organisations, 96 per cent agree that mature workers bring many benefits with greater experience; 86 per cent cite higher loyalty and commitment; and 84 per cent agree that they have a strong work ethic.

Seventy-five per cent of the organisations see benefits from the skills and competencies of mature workers, including better mentoring, leading and coaching, while 74 per cent said they have better knowledge of the business and ways of doing things.

The survey found no evidence for some of the negative stereotypes that are associated with age nor of mature employees costing organisations more money, debunking the myth that older workers are more expensive.

On the contrary, it found that the vast majority of employers - 98 per cent - highly value the knowledge and skills of mature workers. Only 38 per cent find managing the career expectations of mature employees challenging to their organisations. In addition, 81 per cent of firms re-employ mature workers in the same job for the same salary.

With this analytical data available, I wonder how Mr Khoo came to his conclusions.

As there are fewer younger workers entering the workforce, there is an increasing need to retain older workers for longer in the company.

Older workers represent a valuable resource that we cannot afford to waste. It is thus vital to motivate them to continue working, and for employers to want to hire them and see that age is just a number.

Instead of stereotyping older workers, we should instead try to find out what the challenges are for them and address the issues that inhibit their engagement in the workforce.

Francis Cheng