Singapore's mature workers are valuable assets to the workforce

Returning mothers and people with disabilities or special needs will also play key roles in the future workforce.

Singapore Pixabay

Mature workers offer immense employment potential and should not be overlooked as a valuable talent resource, according to PERSOLKELLY's 2019 Q1 APAC Workforce Insights report. Nearly all Singapore-based respondents agree that there are benefits of working with colleagues aged 55 years and up (96 per cent).

Mature workers are most valued for their experience (73 per cent), knowledge about the industry and day-to-day work (59 per cent), and good mentorship skills (50 per cent). With these benefits, mature workers should work for as long as they are able, said two-thirds of respondents.

"These findings align with the Singapore government's focus on mature employees at Budget 2019," said Foo See Yang, Managing Director and Country Head, Singapore at Kelly Services. "As the population ages, we must look to better safeguard the labour potential of our older workers to maximise their potential."

However, Singapore has yet to fully leverage its mature workforce. Less than half of respondents agree that companies in Singapore have the right facilities to accommodate older employees (42 per cent). These could include age-friendly workplace features or practices, such as handrails and lights along travel routes and avoiding the use of age as a selection criterion when recruiting candidates. Additionally, only one-third of respondents agree that companies have a culture that encourages or promotes hiring people older than 55 years of age (34 per cent).

There also remain perceptual challenges – half of the respondents agree that their older colleagues tend to be more close-minded and stubborn (51 per cent) and less adaptable to changes (43 per cent).

"Unlocking the potential of our mature workforce will require effort from all parties," said Foo. "Older workers must proactively seek to combine their years of industry experience with an understanding of new technological tools; companies must provide employees with sufficient learning opportunities to become proficient with these technologies."

Aside from mature workers, PERSOLKELLY's APAC Workforce Insights found that other groups, such as people with disabilities or special needs and returning mothers, also have a role to play in Singapore's future workforce today.

Nearly four in five respondents agree that there is value in employing people with disabilities or special needs (79 per cent). People with disabilities or special needs are most valued for having a more responsible attitude (35 per cent).

Another group of potentially vital contributors to the workforce are mothers who quit their jobs after giving birth. Respondents say more support can be given to welcome them back – only 60 per cent agree that returning mothers are given adequate support and benefits during the first few months after having children. Additionally, just 54 per cent think that companies give mothers flexible work arrangements to cater to having children. These support structures are key to helping ease their transition and could alleviate respondent's concerns that returning mothers would be less focused (38 per cent) or have limited availability to work (38 per cent).

"Mature workers, people with disabilities or special needs, and returning mothers are ready talent that companies may be overlooking," said Foo. "Amid today's labour crunch, businesses must remain open to the opportunities of a more inclusive workforce."

The PERSOLKELLY 2019 APAC Workforce Insights Q1 report can be downloaded here.