More needed to help elderly extend their careers

Tan Thian Seng
A reader in Singapore reacts to Wan Lixin's article on retirement and offers his take on how retirees can adapt to their new re-employment life.
Tan Thian Seng

I am writing in response to "Turning 60 but still working? How to encourage China's retirees back to work" by Wan Lixin (September 19). The article mentioned that a fast-food establishment can be a location for retirees to seek further employment – perhaps also companionships – in the employment settings.

However, it should be noted that to ensure that seniors can be effectively employed, the work environment should be adapted or modified to suit their needs. In Singapore, for instance, the sales counter machine keys have been enlarged for the visual benefits of senior employees working in fast-food establishments.

Another initiative is to increase the digital literacy for the elderly in Singapore. This has been a key factor for government to provide seniors with computer courses that equip them with the basics and, importantly, enable them to be less intimidated by technology. Such courses are eligible for SkillsFuture Credit & SkillsFuture subsidy.

The benefits are many.

On the other hand, individuals can take charge of their future perspectives and review their current career roadmaps and prepare themselves for the era when they can no longer be effectively employed in their pre-retirement employment or work. They can take up learning and methodologies that prepare them as trainers or mentors to younger employees. They can also learn to come up with structured OJT (On the Job Training) blueprints so that the organization can institutionalize their knowledge for training purposes.

In Singapore, in the adult learning programs (WSQ or Workforce Skills Qualifications) under SkillFutures, there are 34 skills frameworks, including generic skills, to choose from for those nearing retirement, or those who aim to switch line.

It is important that individuals take charge of their future re-employment.

When creating bonsai, the bending of the branches takes place when the branches are still malleable. Using older branches will only crack the unforgiving, rigid wood. So, for re-employment after retirement to be effective, a suitable environment should be created so that people who are about to retire are mentally prepared to adopt a flexible approach to their new life.

For instance, they would learn to accept instructions from younger managers. Meanwhile, the younger managers should be reminded to treat their seniors with respect, understanding and consideration.

During my adult training classes, I have often encouraged trainees to "Go On Learning Forever" or GOLF. And for creating a mindset for post-retirement, my tagline is "Have not retired, but just re-wired!"

The author is a trainer and developer of 20 WSQ accredited modules. He is a freelancer in Singapore. The views are his own.

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