Fair chance helps older worker

ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

When office manager Chang Li Er (photo) was searching for a new job two years ago, she found that her years of work experience did not seem to put her in a favourable position.

Ms Chang, 56, had worked in a variety of roles, including heading a bank's internal audit department and planning curricula in an enrichment centre.

She left her last job thinking she would retire, but realised two years ago, when her grandmother died at the age of 104, that she might live another 50 years. But she found that re-entering the workforce was a challenge.

She eventually landed her current post overseeing finance, administration and human resources at digital marketing firm Design Prodigy through employment consultancy Silver Spring, which specialises in placing older professionals.

As she did not have digital marketing experience, her boss, who is in his 40s, sent her for training. She passed a Google AdWords course and is doing further modules.

Having a boss with an open mind is key in fostering a workplace culture that includes older workers, said Ms Chang.

"If the CEO believes in this and buys into the idea, the whole organisation will be more open to adopting a more inclusive kind of culture."

She believes that while older workers have to do their part to keep themselves up to date in the new economy, they still have core competencies and other soft skills to offer and should be given a fair chance by employers.

She said: "We are not asking for privileges or preferential treatment, but give us equal opportunity as you would give a younger person."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline 'Fair chance helps older worker'. Print Edition | Subscribe