Older workers have a date to look forward to, as the Government announced in Parliament last Friday that the re-employment age will be raised to 67 on July 1 next year.
With this date set, the end is finally in sight for a journey that commenced 23 years ago, when the Government first floated the idea of enabling Singaporeans to work until that age.
From the new date on, older workers have the choice of keeping their jobs for two more years after they reach the current age ceiling of 65.
Employers will be obliged to offer re-employment to healthy workers from 62 until 67 if they have performed satisfactorily.
The worker can also be re-employed by another firm if he or she is willing.
If employers absolutely cannot rehire them, they must at least give them a one-off payment.
Manpower Ministry statistics show that the silver workforce is growing in size. More than 40 per cent of people aged 65 to 69 were still working last year, compared with just 24 per cent in 2006.
In June last year, there were 149,200 workers aged between 60 and 64.
Keeping these seniors in the workforce for at least two more years could be a vital part of the solution to today's manpower crunch, as well as alleviate the slowdown in local labour force growth.
For years, many have filled roles which younger Singaporeans increasingly shun. Their experience also makes them valuable mentors to younger colleagues.
In 2012, the re-employment age was set at 65, an interim move to give firms wiggle room to adjust to the higher medical costs and lower productivity associated with an older workforce.
Since then, companies have had time to redesign jobs to better suit their older employees.
If they have not done so, they have 14 months left before the July 1, 2017 deadline to reconsider how older workers can help them not just plug a manpower gap, but even grow beyond it.