SINGAPORE - At 60, most workers are preparing for their retirement. But Mr Henry Lum, who recently left his healthcare assistant job, has grand plans to become a computer programmer at 62.
"I'm planning for another stage of my life now, and I want to have a job that I can still do when I'm not as mobile," said Mr Lum, who is now looking to attain the necessary qualifications to become a programmer.
He was among the more than 80 seniors who attended a career fair targeted at seniors aged 60 and above on Wednesday (June 15).
The one-day Jobs-For-Seniors Fair, held at Pasir Ris East Community Club, saw about 800 vacancies from more than 10 companies.
Organised by Project Success, a job placement initiative by Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, the event was open to all seniors. It is among the few job fairs for seniors that have been held across Singapore since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of the participating companies included supply chain solutions provider A-Sonic Logistics, recruitment firm Cornerstone Global Partners and NTUC Enterprise, with available roles ranging from operations managers and marketing and communications executives to security officers and kitchen assistants.
Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC MP Sharael Taha said the recruitment event is aimed at getting employers to hire mature workers for their experience and knowledge.
"Many of the seniors also shared that they felt at times they were not given an interview opportunity because of their age," he added.
Holding such a job fair creates a less intimidating environment for them, Mr Sharael noted, as seniors who come across younger job seekers may feel less competent or confident about their chances.
Madam Ng Geok Luan, 61, who was at the job fair, believes revealing her age to potential employers could lower her odds of landing a role.
Madam Ng, who has worked various jobs, from an administrative clerk to a media coordinator, said that some firms prefer a younger worker who is able to learn fast, compared with a senior worker with experience.
"As we get older, it becomes more difficult to compete with those younger than us," she added.
Fellow job seeker Ramasamy Veerayan, 72, is willing to take on any role offered.
Mr Veerayan, who used to draw $11,000 per month working for an oil and gas company, said that switching to a job that pays less would require a big lifestyle change.
Despite this, he does not mind a pay cut as long as he can provide for his family. He believes it is unrealistic to expect a high salary as he is switching to a new industry.
Mr Ratna Raja Singham, 67, feels that a less taxing job that can keep him occupied is good enough.
"At our age, we just want a job that we can easily handle, which means no long shifts during odd hours," said Mr Ratna, who was a senior engineer with transport operator SMRT for 33 years. "We don't want more health issues."
Re-entering the workforce also helps seniors to pass their time meaningfully, he added.
"For me, the extra income is a bonus. I don't want to just stay at home and do nothing."