Singapore

Firms hiring older Singaporeans to receive extra support

Senior Minister Tharman urges firms to rethink views on hiring middle-aged and mature workers

Employers who hire middle-aged and older Singaporeans will receive extra support from the Government, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

A programme to open new pathways for mid-career job seekers will also be scaled up in the coming months.

This will give them opportunities to work at companies and public-sector agencies, and prepare for more permanent jobs, he added.

In a national broadcast on building a more cohesive society, Mr Tharman, who is also Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, urged employers to rethink their views on hiring middle-aged and mature workers - and step up to give them opportunities.

Everyone benefits if it becomes the norm to hire from this group, he added, noting that the labour force is much older today than it was in the late 1960s when the British announced their troop pullout, and in the mid-1980s when Singapore suffered a recession.

Fewer than 30 per cent of the labour force then was 40 years or older. Today, the proportion has doubled to 60 per cent, and many workers are 50 years or older. This is the reason for the concerted effort now to help middle-aged and mature Singaporean workers, he added.

"This is, and must be, a national effort. And it needs new thinking among employers, to give middle-aged and mature Singaporean workers a fair chance to prove themselves.

"Employers need to reorient their management philosophies, and their human resources and talent management practices," he said.

Mr Tharman, who chairs the new National Jobs Council set up to help Singaporeans stay employable in a challenging economy, added: "No Singaporean who is willing to learn should be 'too old' to hire. And no one who is willing to adapt should be viewed as 'overqualified'.

"We will work closely with the business associations to bring all employers into this national effort."

HIRING PRACTICES

The Manpower Ministry will also watch companies' hiring practices to ensure they comply with the Fair Consideration Framework, he added.

Now, Singapore's economy is more diversified, its people more skilled and investors have greater confidence in it.

But its labour force is also much older, Mr Tharman noted. And the older workers have had fewer educational opportunities than the younger generations, he said.

"But they are a hard-working and vigorous generation, who have accumulated valuable skills and experience over the years, and still have many good years ahead of them. We will spare no effort to help them carry on with their careers in the most productive jobs they can do, so that they can continue to provide for their families and contribute to Singapore."

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