Older workers

National Day Rally 2019: Singaporeans need to keep reskilling as they live longer

Enabling seniors to continue working productively takes a joint effort from both employers and employees, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.
Enabling seniors to continue working productively takes a joint effort from both employers and employees, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.PHOTO: ST FILE

The number of Singaporeans who are over the age of 100 has more than doubled since 2007, from 500 to 1,300 today, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Singaporeans are now living longer on average and have the world's highest life expectancy at birth of 84.8 years.

This is one reason they have to keep reskilling themselves, PM Lee said at the National Day Rally at the Institute of Technical Education College Central in Ang Mo Kio.

Most seniors do not want to stop working, he added.

"We are healthy for longer and living longer, but we don't want to live in retirement for longer. We want to stay active and engaged, to feel a sense of worth and purpose," he said.

"Also, many of us want to build up bigger nest eggs for when we eventually retire."

But enabling seniors to continue working productively takes a joint effort from both employers and employees, PM Lee said.

 
 

Employers have to redesign their training, jobs and careers around older workers.

Although older workers may not be as strong or quick as their younger colleagues, this is not a problem in many jobs that can be redesigned or where technology can be used, PM Lee said.

On their part, employees must have the right mindset and be ready to adapt, learn new things and take on different responsibilities, he said. "We cannot just be satisfied doing our old jobs well, because many jobs will change and some jobs will disappear."

PM Lee said reskilling must start early, when workers are in their 40s and 50s, if not earlier.

This way, they will have useful skills that will be valuable even as they near retirement age and can keep improving in their 60s, he said.

Read PM Lee's full speech at www.pmo.gov.sg and watch the video of his speech here 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2019, with the headline 'Singaporeans need to keep reskilling as they live longer'. Print Edition | Subscribe