Don't dismiss realities of ageing in fight against ageism

I am mystified at the manner in which my observations of how older employees are viewed in the workplace can be misconstrued as perpetuating stereotypes ("Don't stereotype older workers" by Mr Francis Cheng; Forum Online, Oct 25).

The responses to the 2013 survey by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep), on the merits of hiring mature workers, cannot be considered "analytical data".

It is naive to believe that 98 per cent of employers highly value their knowledge and skills, while 71 per cent claim that older employees do not cost more to hire.

Anyone who believes that mature workers have the same energy levels and are as fast as, and not likely to have more health problems than, their younger colleagues is simply in denial.

How can companies that provide health insurance not find older staff more expensive to insure? I would like to find such an insurer since I am a mature worker.

A total of 12,930 employees lost their jobs last year, which is the highest since the recession of 2009 ("More workers laid off amid economic restructuring"; April 24).

Older workers above 40 made up 58 per cent of resident professionals, managers, executives and technicians who were laid off.

The issue of age discrimination in our workplaces has been previously raised in Parliament.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said during a Straits Times interview last year: "We are still very much an ageist society... I receive a lot of feedback from elderly job applicants and they say it is very difficult for them to get a job because sometimes when they call up an employer, when the employer asks for their age, and then when they inform the employer what their age is, the employer immediately says, okay, the vacancy has been filled." ("Singapore 'still very much an ageist society'"; Jan 4, 2014)

Even Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in 2013: "I believe there's an element of age discrimination that we have to tackle." ("'Age discrimination leaves older workers vulnerable'"; March 8, 2013)

That same year, then Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said Tafep received 151 age-related discrimination complaints from 2010 to 2013 ("Job hunt much tougher for older workers"; March 10, 2013).

He said: "Addressing age discrimination is more of an ongoing journey than a destination, and requires the concerted efforts of all members of Singapore society."

Is it fair to claim that the arguments in my letter ("Difficulties in hiring older workers"; Oct 23) are based on presumption?

Simon Owen Khoo Kim San

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