Civil service must lead in hiring older workers

Workers at Raffles Place on June 13.
Workers at Raffles Place on June 13. PHOTO: ST FILE

In a society with an ageing population and a low fertility rate, doing away with the retirement age is a first step in the right direction ("Tharman: S'pore's retirement age has to go at some point"; July 12).

However, leadership and initiative in such a seemingly radical move is imperative.

The lack of benchmarks and guidelines in the market has thus far made the employment of senior workers less than attractive.

Is our job market ready to accommodate this pool of senior workers who may be physically weaker and less mobile, suffering from chronic illness, or take a longer time to learn?

If not, then extending the retirement age or encouraging seniors to remain in the workforce is just paying lip service.

If we are to do away with the retirement age, perhaps the civil service should start the ball rolling, since it is the biggest employer in Singapore and other employers look to it for the lead.

It should aim to be the most senior-friendly workplace and the largest employer of older workers.

Only when the civil service has walked the talk will other employers be encouraged to follow suit.

Seah Yam Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2016, with the headline 'Civil service must lead in hiring older workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe