Stop regarding older workers as financial burdens

Older workers may not have the vim, vigour and vitality of their younger counterparts. But while we should not underestimate the negative effects of ageing on productivity, I would not exaggerate them too much (Productivity loss due to sick leave to hit $3b by 2030; Oct 26).

Older workers in Singapore today are far better educated than the older workers of yore, and there is minimal gap in education between them and younger workers.

The older worker is, therefore, just as knowledgeable and in possession of similar cognitive abilities as the younger worker, with the added bonus of experience.

Good health is essential for productivity. Singapore's competent healthcare system, comprising the twin prongs of disease prevention and early diagnosis and treatment, provides an effective platform for the older worker to be productive well beyond what was possible before.

The more connected older workers make themselves, and the more involved they are, the more productive they will be.

With robotics and autonomous systems to further ameliorate the effects of ageing, how old we are will have less bearing on how we perform at work.

So let us perish the notion that the older worker is but a financial burden who only adds to a company's medical bill.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'Stop regarding older workers as financial burdens'. Print Edition | Subscribe