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     FrontPage Edition: Sun 10 June 2007

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Survey on conditions of employment for older workers in 2006


Skills and Experience Keep Mature Workers Employed

Attesting to the importance of continual education and training, mature workers in their 40s and 50s remain employable mainly due to their relevant skills and work experience.
While this was also important for older workers aged 60 & over, the top reason cited by employers for employing them was their lower likelihood to job-hop.
About half of the establishments surveyed1 indicated that they offered re-employment to retirees, or allowed their employees to continue working beyond the statutory retirement age.
These are the key findings from an ad-hoc survey on Conditions of Employment for Older Workers, 2006 conducted by Ministry of Manpower's Research and Statistics Department on an effective sample of about 2,900 private sector establishments.
Main Findings
As at June 2006, nearly all private sector establishments surveyed (97%) hired Singapore citizens aged 40 to 49. However, the proportion employing workers in their 50s declined to 89% and more sharply to 54% for those older.
Seven in ten employers cited relevant skills and work experience as the most common reason workers in their 40s and 50s fit into organisations. Although this was also important for older workers aged 60 & over (52%), the top reason cited for employing them was their lower likelihood to job-hop (61%).
A significant percentage (at least 40%) of establishments also cited the ability of mature and older workers to mentor and impart knowledge to younger staff, reinforcing the perception that older workers are more loyal and committed to the company.
Willingness to accept salary adjustment (37%) was also a significant factor for employing older workers aged 60 & over.
Among firms that did not employ mature workers, the most common barrier cited against employing workers in their 50s and 60s was their inability to meet physical demands of the job, with nearly four in ten employers citing this.
This was also the second most cited barrier against hiring workers in their 40s (25%) after high wage expectation (31%). Interestingly, high wage expectation was not as much an issue for workers in their 50s and 60s, as the percentage of firms which cited this declined to 12% and 6.7% respectively, possibly reflecting more realistic salary expectations of older workers2.
Other reasons cited were that mature workers were not flexible and adaptable to changes and were less receptive to training and skills, with less than one in five employers indicating each reason.
About half (54%) of the establishments surveyed retained employees beyond the official retirement age, with the majority of them making no change to the workers' job scope, wages and benefits. There is therefore scope for employers to put in place re-employment arrangements and programmes that can enable more workers to work beyond the retirement age.
One in three (34%) establishments were aware of the ADVANTAGE! scheme introduced in Jan 06. Slightly more than half (54%) of the establishments surveyed indicated that they would consider tapping on the Scheme. There is therefore considerable room to raise the awareness of employers and encourage them to participate in the scheme.
These are the main findings from the report on ˇ°Firms' Adoption of Age-Positive Human Resource Practicesˇ±. The full report is available online at Ministry of Manpower's website.

1 The survey covered private sector establishments each employing at least 25 employees.

2 Preliminary findings of the National Survey of Senior Citizens, 2004/2005 commissioned by MCYS found that nine out of ten senior citizens aged 55 & over who were looking for a job were prepared to accept lower salaries.

Source: Press Release 25 May 2007

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