Employers practise ageism to their own detriment

Older office workers at Raffles Place.
Older office workers at Raffles Place.PHOTO: ST FILE

I thank Dr William Wan for his inspirational and uplifting column (Reinventing oneself for the workforce, Aug 26).

There is a more sobering message to be taken from his column, however, which is that ageism is far from dead.

The bias he describes against older workers continues to infiltrate companies and human resources departments.

Many employers prefer ambitious, job-hopping Generation X-ers over experienced, battle-tested veterans.

The younger worker may size up a job in terms of compensation and upward mobility. The older worker may welcome challenges and opportunities to apply what they know and augment it with retraining.

Isn't an overqualified employee who is willing to work for a reasonable wage a sounder prospect than an underqualified applicant who might bail after receiving training and the prospects of higher pay elsewhere?

I commend the Government for raising the retirement age. Ditto its programmes for elderly citizens under the Pioneer and Merdeka generations, and SkillsFuture.

My modest suggestion is that the SkillsFuture programme receive additional funding for the retraining of senior citizens.

Let us continue to experience the joys and rewards of lifelong learning.

The existing $500 subsidy went quickly when I enrolled in three very engaging massive open online courses. I hope the programme can be supplemented, as Singapore could use more seniors in physical and virtual classrooms.

John Timothy Driscoll

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Employers practise ageism to their own detriment'. Print Edition | Subscribe