Productivity of older workers goes beyond paid work

While Dr Margaret Chan waits anxiously for her employment renewal next June (Will you still employ me when I'm 68; June 10), many mature Singaporean workers are looking forward to the end of this month.

Come July 1, Singapore employers will be legally obliged to offer re-employment to eligible Singaporean workers up to the age of 67 - this is two years higher than the current ceiling age of 65.

We agree with Dr Chan that it is a fallacy to think "age equates with debased" and that our experience with the elders whom we serve bears out Dr Philip Rozario's observation that older workers are "often prejudiced by their age and appearance" (Mindset change needed on how we view older workers; June 13).

As it becomes commonplace to live till the age of 80 and beyond, we often forget that Singapore's life expectancy is one of the highest in the world, through hard work and good policies.

Singapore has (gender-neutral) incentives for mid-career and retiring workers to retrain for new jobs. There are also government schemes that encourage employers to retain and recruit mature workers. More, of course, can be done.

While the paid employment of older persons is a critical issue, we need to remember that older persons often work for no pay as family caregivers and as formal and informal volunteers.

In considering the productivity of older persons, one also needs to take into account their role as the holders and transmitters of legacy, culture and values amid the relentless pace of change and progress. We thank Dr Chan for her inspiring account of her learning journey and and hope she will get her contract renewed next June.

Lim Yeng Peng (Ms)

Corporate Communications Manager

Tsao Foundation

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'Productivity of older workers goes beyond paid work'. Print Edition | Subscribe