Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Re-employment age to be raised to 67 in two to three years’ time: Amy Khor

Amanda Lee

March 9, 2015

SINGAPORE — The extension of the re-employment age to 67 years old will take place in two to three years’ time, revealed Senior Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor today (March 9), as she urged employers to tap on measures to support the implementation of age management practices to prepare for an older workforce.

Employers should also make use of the incentives for those who voluntarily re-employ those above 65 years old in the interim, said Dr Khor as she noted the “encouraging” signs of employers warming to older employees in the workplace.

The employment rate of Singaporeans aged 65 to 69 increased slightly from 38 per cent in 2013 to 40 per cent last year, close to figures in advanced economies such as Japan, said Dr Khor, speaking at the Manpower Ministry’s Committee of Supply debate today. “This is encouraging as it shows that employers find value in their older employees,” she said.

Existing initiatives to encourage workers to hire older workers include WorkPro, which features an Age Management Grant (AMG) and a Job Redesign Grant (JRG). Just two weeks ago, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his Budget speech announced that the Special Employment Credit will be raised further to encourage employers to voluntarily re-employ older workers above 65 years old.

Providing an update of the grants, Dr Khor said the take-up rate for the AMG has been positive with about 1,400 companies on board since its launch in April 2013, and S$28 million of the budget committed. However, the take-up rate for the JRG is less positive. As of December last year, only 46 companies have come on board and about S$2 million committed.

She also stressed the need to raise the skills level of older workers so that they can take up better employment opportunities.

Older workers can tap on existing Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) training grants to enhance their capabilities. For instance, under SkillsFuture, all Singapore above 40 will enjoy enhanced subsidies of at least 90 per cent of training costs for courses funded by the Ministry of Education and the WDA. On top of this, Singaporeans can also use the SkillsFuture credit to offset the remaining fees. For lower-wage older Singaporean workers, they can receive up to 95 per cent subsidy for course fees under the Workfare Training Support scheme.

Based on the WDA’s 2014 survey on the outcomes of the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) system, 95 per cent of the surveyed employers found that their employees performed more efficiently after completing the WSQ training, and 76 per cent reported that training had a positive impact on work productivity, Dr Khor said.

“It is particularly heartening to note that in the last three years, there has been an increase in the proportion of trainees aged 40 and above who took up WSQ courses,” she added.

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