Grey hair is good - more firms urged to hire mature workers

An elderly man walking in the central business district area.
An elderly man walking in the central business district area. PHOTO: ST FILE

Grey hair is good, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday as he encouraged more employers to hire mature workers.

The public service is leading by example, he added.

Almost one in two civil servants hired by ministries last year was a mid-career professional, manager, engineer or technician, fresh statistics from the Public Service Division (PSD) show.

Of these, 21 per cent, or 1,653 people, were aged 40 and above.

Statutory boards are doing likewise, the PSD added in a statement.

For instance, the Land Transport Authority hired 285 mid-career PMETs aged 40 and older in the last two years - a fifth of their hires.

Older PMETs are particularly vulnerable to being laid off as the economy restructures, or to losing their jobs to technology and cheaper and more competitive workers abroad.

The national Adapt and Grow programmes help these workers switch sectors and find new jobs, Mr Lee said. Throwing its weight behind the programme as Singapore's largest employer, the public service said it values mid-career PMETs for their maturity and experience.

It also outlined what it was doing to help workers switch industries.

New mid-career hires go through professional training by the respective public agencies, or by the Civil Service College.

For instance, the Ministry of Education's kindergarten teachers undergo conversion training at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and get a relevant diploma before starting work.

Additionally, Workforce Singapore (WSG) works with other agencies to facilitate the hiring of suitable mid-career PMETs to meet the needs of the public sector, for instance, its current shortage of engineers. WSG will also create professional conversion programmes together with public agencies.

Last year, a third of the 1,000 Singaporeans who found new jobs through these programmes were in areas related to the public sector.

They include social workers, healthcare employees, and early childhood educators.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2017, with the headline 'Grey hair is good - more firms urged to hire mature workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe