Posts Tagged “mature age workers”

The Straits Times

Professor Ursula Staudinger, who heads a centre dedicated to research on ageing at Columbia University, says old age and productivity are compatible but only if mindsets are changed so older people are motivated to continue working.

Rosa Finnegan loved sharing jokes, giggled like a young girl and went to work every day in Needham, the small Massachusetts town she called home. When she finally retired late last year, the snowy haired great-grandmother of three was 101.

Born in 1912, the year the Titanic sank, Mrs Finnegan died in June this year, four months after celebrating her 102nd birthday.

She may have been old, but she was certainly not the odd one out at her company, Vita Needle. The average age of workers there is 74.

But the family-run business which manufactures needles and steel pipes is no social enterprise, says Professor Ursula Staudinger, who heads a centre dedicated to research on ageing at Columbia University in New York. “This is a profitable company that has discovered the value of older workers.”

Vita Needle’s success, in many ways, reflects the findings of numerous research studies that show that human beings can remain productive and engaged right till the end of their lives, says the distinguished professor of psychology who has spent more than a decade leading inter-disciplinary research on the productive potential of human ageing.

“Old age and productivity can indeed go very well together,” Prof Staudinger told The Sunday Times. She was in Singapore at the invitation of the Tsao Foundation to deliver the charity’s annual lecture last Thursday on the opportunities presented by ageing.

In a field dominated by negative narratives – think the proverbial silver tsunami – the psychologist’s message is one of hope and promise. “We are not only living longer, but we are also healthier than ever before,” she says. “Rather than fret about ageing, we must realise that we have this enormous gift of a longer life. And we must use it well.”

An ageing population and fewer children will mean lower productivity only “if we continue doing things the way we have been in the past” by keeping labour market regulations and retirement age unchanged, for instance.

However, if people are encouraged to spend longer working lives, not necessarily in continuous employment, but with breaks for periods of further education and tending to family needs, then it is possible to be economically productive way past 70.

Companies and countries alike must begin to focus on “qualitative growth”, rather than “quantitative growth”, says Prof Staudinger.

She was born and raised in Germany which, barring Japan and Italy, has the highest proportion of older people in the world, with a fifth of its population aged 65 and above. Singapore’s elderly population is set to nearly triple in 20 years, a feat that took Europe a century to achieve.

“By qualitative growth, I mean we must intensify the investment in each individual, we bring the health and educational level up and we change the labour market qualitatively so that people are motivated to work – and maintain their productivity.”

This, she notes, is very different from a worker being forced to work because he cannot afford to retire.

Her research on ageing in the workplace has provided valuable insights into what makes older workers tick.

A study that looked at assembly-line workers at a car factory in Germany showed that workers who changed tasks at least three times over 16 years tended to function better cognitively than colleagues who did not, other things remaining equal.

“You have to have enough variability in what you do. The simpler the job, the more frequent these changes have to be.”

A crucial determinant of productivity is the mindset of the company, and especially of supervisors.

“If everyone believes these workers are less productive and this is reinforced by supervisors and company leaders, then this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the end, the older worker believes what everyone else believes. If you are not entrusted, if you are not challenged, you will not live up to the challenge,” she says.

Incentives from the state and changes in labour laws to keep the current cohort of older workers employable are one way forward, says Prof Staudinger, noting that the Singapore Government has taken several steps in this direction.

It is subsidising the wage bills of companies that hire older workers and announced earlier this month that, from next year, eligible public servants will be offered re-employment till they turn 67.

When they reach the statutory retirement age of 62, eligible workers are already offered re-employment up to the age of 65 under the Retirement and Re-employment Act which came into force in 2012.

However, current rehiring laws in Singapore give companies the option to reduce a worker’s pay when they are rehired.

Prof Staudinger warns that care must be taken to see that state support does not end up being used against the interests of workers themselves.

In Europe, state incentives to companies that hire and retain older workers are tied to criteria that ensure the workers are not discriminated against. For instance, companies are required to pay older workers the same wage they would pay a younger worker for the same job. And strict minimum wage laws ensure older workers are not exploited as cheap labour.

“While crafting laws, you have to anticipate misuse and devise ways to avoid it.”

This article was first published on Oct 12, 2014.


October 12, 2014
boomer bikies

Here’s a radical thought: what if Australia’s ageing population was a boon not a burden? What if greying baby boomers spelt opportunity not crisis?  The media, politicians, and Treasury have depicted the ageing population as a demographic time bomb. Too many old people and a shrinking workforce will be the country’s ruination. As the politically powerful and needy old squeeze the young dry, the result will be endless government deficits, higher taxes and lower productivity. It’s enough to make retiring baby boomers feel guilty for hoping to reach 80.

But increasingly other voices are pressing a positive view. Instead of fearing longer lives, we should be celebrating the longevity achievement as one of the greatest of modern times. Instead of regarding ageing as a period of decline, decay and dependency, we should positively embrace the ageing society. The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia is a recent report to argue this line. It says we debate the ‘challenges’ of an ageing population “as though ageing was something to be feared and shunned. We talk about the costs and burdens of ageing. This perception is misguided.” Instead, it says, we could “choose to see longer lives as a social and economic good.”

I’ve taken a while to be persuaded to this positive point of view. The growing costs of aged care, superannuation tax concessions, pensions, and especially health care are realand need to be addressed. The cost of treating dementia alone is estimated to be $83 billion by 2060. The growing inequality among older Australians is another cause of concern.

When the number of people over 65 rises from 3.1 million to 5.7 million over the 20 years to 2031 it will represent a significant shift. Australians over 65 will make up 18.7 per cent of our population compared to around 14 per cent today. The ageing population is a force that will re-shape Australia. And the wealthier elderly may have to accept some loss of government benefits in the name of fairness and revenue-raising.

But do we have to scared, very scared of this eventuality? Do we have to ring the alarm bells, and raise the pension age to 70? An ageing society creates opportunities. It’s not all about costs. And it’s time we framed the debate about the future in a more positive way. “The best way to approach it is to look for ways that older Australians can participate more effectively in our society and our economy to the best of their abilities,” the Blueprint says.

Let’s have a look at some of the opportunities. Business opportunities abound. If entrepreneurs took off their blinkers, they would see the over-60s not as an unfashionable demographic but a desirable one. It’s no secret older people have spending power. Baby boomers spend a lot on travel, recreation and culture. If you’re not rich enough to bankroll your adult children into housing, you might as well pamper yourself. The age group 50-69 alone holds more than 40 per cent of the nation’s wealth. It’s a market segment crying out for entrepreneurial attention. From dating websites, to longevity insurance, from IT products to toothpaste that promises healthy gums, and reverse parking systems that help drivers with bad necks, the possibilities are endless. It’s not just about incontinence pads, and devices of the “I’ve-fallen-and-can’t-get-up” variety that are needed. That’s the old business of old age. The new business involves technologies that promote mobility, autonomy and social connection.

Another area of opportunity is philanthropy. Many older people have considerable capacity to give more, and giving tends to increase with age. They should be assisted and encouraged to do so. “Giving provides a great way for older Australians to demonstrate that ageing isn’t a cost to society,” the Blueprint says. It recommends banks launch a “golden givers” campaign to encourage older clients to establish charitable trusts and foundations while offering services to manage the funds.

Other Australian voices also argue for a more positive approach. Patricia Edgar, author of In Praise of Ageing, says the productivity of older people is written out of the country’s GDP because we don’t include the value of the caring, voluntary and creative work they do. In this way the “dependence” of older people is exaggerated, and their economic contribution downplayed. “Our assumptions about the burden of the aged, the dependency ratio and the future workforce are riven with inaccuracy,” she says.

The Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, urges against “scrabbling round for a few sticks to beat our older citizens with.” At the same time she’s clear-eyed about the changes needed to embrace an ageing society. In her recent address to the National Press Club, titled Longevity Revolution – Crisis or Opportunity, she highlights the need for older people to stay in the workforce longer for their sake and the country’s. A further three per cent increase in workforce participation amongst workers aged 55 and over would contribute an extra $33 billion to the nation’s GDP – a sum to gladden the hearts of Treasurers, and young taxpayers alike.

But raising the pension age won’t achieve this. It will require a different mindset towards older workers, more flexible workplaces, an end to ageism, and more help for mid-career workers to plan for the long-term. The debate about the ageing society has used too many scare tactics. To embrace the opportunities we need a positive agenda: how can we best harness the talents, money, and willingness to work of older Australians without making them feel guilty for being alive?


Source:  Adele Horin:  Coming of Age

Training for an unemployed older jobseeker can be tricky. Judy Higgins of provides her top tips on how the right training can help you find employment or start a whole new career.

Often if unemployed older jobseekers are lucky enough to get an interview, they are told ‘you are overqualified’, and on that basis why would you waste the time, effort and money to train. Right? Not necessarily. There are instances where training can assist you into employment.

Train into a job

Some organisations in specific skill shortage industries – aged care for instance – develop and set up their own training organisations, recruit participants from the local area, train them and place them into jobs within their organisation. This system works well for everyone. The organisation has local, trained staff and the training often leads to a job for participants. Check out your local papers or local employer websites – they often advertise for participants.

Refresh and update your skills

If you have been out of work for any length of time, it’s useful to train and update your skills. Keeping your skills relevant also addresses the myth that older workers don’t want to undertake training, and shows any prospective employer that you are keen to learn, and have made an effort to do so. This is particularly appropriate if you have been with your last employer for quite a long time; chances are you are trained to suit their way of doing things, so a generic skills update could prove very useful.

Train for a change of career

Some industries are contracting in terms of numbers of workers required – for instance the car industry, print journalism, public service (administration, policy and program/project staff). If you are coming out of such an industry then it is wise to look at training for a change of career. Take the time to do some research and find out what the growth industries are in your area. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce site and the Local Government or Council site – they often provide information on developing local industries.

Train to be self-employed

If you have received a redundancy, you may consider training in a specific area that enables you to become self-employed. You can purchase a franchise, set up a business or simply contract out your new-found skills. The word ‘seniorpreneur’ has been created due to the number of older people turning into entrepreneurs. Self-employment is a good option for some.

The old adage ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ has never been further from the truth. More and more training organisations are seeing older people in their classes. Is it something you should consider?



Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

Signage featuring the words “Career Change” stands at a booth offering career advice at… Read More

Australia’s gyrating jobs figures are making it harder for the central bank and investors to gauge the impact of record-low interest rates on the nation’s economy.

The number of people employed fell by 29,700 last month after rising 32,100 in August, the statistics bureau said in Sydney today. It yesterday announced a review of methodology designed to smooth seasonal factors that produced a record 121,000 increase in jobs in August and would’ve shown a 172,000 loss in September.

“The admission of statistical discrepancies has essentially muddied the state of the labor market,” said Savanth Sebastian, an economist at a unit of Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney. “Not only does it make it difficult for investors and analysts to get a clearer picture of employment growth, but it will result in Reserve Bank policy makers being more cautious when it comes to interest-rate decisions.”

The lack of labor market clarity complicates the central bank’s task of using a 2.5 percent cash rate to guide the economy toward domestically-driven growth that soaks up unemployed miners as a resource boom fades.

The bureau said today that in recent months key labor figures have shown “unusual volatility” and an investigation of the August data had identified “no systematic cause.” For the September numbers, the bureau found none of the previously observed seasonal movements, leading it to conclude that the adjustments made in the past weren’t appropriate for July, August and September. Instead, it opted to use raw numbers.

Current Investigation

It said the treatment of October data and future months “will depend on the estimates produced, the continuation of the current investigations and the outcome of the review.”

With the ABS to decide month by month how to treat its labor force survey results, financial markets and economists are “blind to any dramatic developments that genuinely occur in the real economy,” said Ben Jarman, a Sydney-based economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “With uncertainty around the labor survey dragging on, the hurdle rises for a change in the RBA cash rate.”

The Australian dollar fell immediately after the report before rebounding to trade at 88.57 U.S. cents at 1:48 p.m. in Sydney from 88.27 cents before the release. Traders are pricing in 2 basis points of reductions in the cash rate over the next 12 months, compared with 2 basis points of increases yesterday, according to an index of swaps from Credit Suisse Group AG.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has flagged a period of rates stability after reducing the benchmark to 2.5 percent last year as it seeks to avoid a growth gap emerging.

Unusually Volatile

“Labor market data have been unusually volatile of late,” RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said in a statement two days ago after leaving rates unchanged for a 14th month. “The bank’s assessment remains that although some forward indicators of employment have been firming this year, the labor market has a degree of spare capacity and it will probably be some time yet before unemployment declines consistently.”

Today’s report showed unemployment rose to 6.1 percent last month from 6 percent in August as the number of full-time jobs increased by 21,600, while part-time employment fell by 51,300. The participation rate, a measure of the labor force in proportion to the population, fell to 64.5 percent in September from 64.7 percent, the report showed.

One of Australia’s most important economic releases “now borders on being meaningless,” UBS AG Australian economist Scott Haslem said. “Further questioning the credibility in this data is the fact that the over the past three months, hours-worked in the economy fell at an annualised pace of more than 8 percent.”


Source:  Bloomberg News

A new study reveals the next generation of bosses will be different to the last.

baby boomer bosses

Baby boomer bosses are very traditional.

Think the boss of the future is going to be made in the model of the traditional and decisive baby boomer?

Think again.

While baby boomers have honed their skills in long-term thinking and motivating staff, Gen X and Y are doing things differently, a new report reveals.

A new report called The Great Generational Shift by recruitment firm Hudson analysed the leadership traits of 28,000 professionals globally, finding significant generational differences.

• Why Gen Y ‘slackers’ make good employees
• It’s over! Here’s how to break up with your boss
• Why coding is the new literacy

This comes as Generation Z enters the workplace, baby boomers begin to retire, and Gen X and Y step up.

The report paints a not-entirely favourable picture of some boomer bosses. While the benefits of greater experience cannot be understated, it says some boomer leaders have lower technical ability and fewer creative skills compared to the younger generations. Nearing the end of their career, they can also be less ambitious.

Hudson’s Regional Assessment Solutions Manager Dr Crissa Sumner says the new generations of leaders have a greater focus on the short-term, and are likely to lead by example. Both X and Y have strong people skills more likely to explain and relate than to persuade staff.

“We’ll see their strengths in conceptual and abstract thinking; their ability to connect the dots for others in the workplace and provide those meaningful insights for team members,” Dr Sumner says.

Developing in the fast moving digital age, Gen Y skills in particular are “potentially more relevant” for today’s business environment.

colleagues fighting

Defining a leader by generation

Baby boomer: Traditional leaders, decisive, motivating, persuasive and strategic
Generation X: Socially progressive, change-oriented and culturally sensitive
Generation Y: Abstract thinkers, meticulous, ambitious, socially confident

Dr Sumner says the research has dispelled many of the popular cliches around this generation of workers who rather than being lazy or self-centered and ambitious and people-oriented.

“What an organisation can expect is that Gen Y are likely to be leaders who are more visionary ‘thought’ leaders and role models,” she says.

“I think you can see the data links to what we are seeing in changes in the external environment, nowadays leaders don’t have to influence by information and facts, employees can get all that at their fingertips, they need someone to help them understand that data.”

In practice this means they are less hands-on and unlikely to micro-manage.

“We are seeing that Gen Y are less strategic,” Dr Sumner says.

“They are likely to keep the short-term and immediate needs as well as longer-term goals and that’s probably appropriate for today’s environment.”

But that doesn’t mean the baby boomers should be pushed out the door.

Dr Sumner says their traditional skills are going to continue to be essential for businesses.

Both Gen X and Y were lacking in these, with boomers continuing to have more power and influence over others.


“I think organisations are going to have to pair up boomers and Gen Y before those skills are lost,” Dr Sumner says.

Stuck in the middle, Gen X is the most socially progressive generation. Dr Sumner says it is the one who can smooth over relationships between the ambitious Gen Ys and the traditional boomers.

This is the most altruistic generation of leaders which the report describes as natural diplomats who are “wired, self-reliant” and “autonomous” leaders.

Generation clash: how to cope

Clashes between generations are not new. Boomers are found to be judgemental of younger generations, particularly around their work ethics, while Gen Y can be critical of out-of touch older workers.

The report says boomers will need to adjust expectations, Generation X will have to step up and use their diplomatic powers, and Generation Y will learn from the established skills of older workers.

“More than ever before, it is imperative that organisations understand the profound psychological differences in how the various generations think, act and lead,” says Simon Moylan, Hudson Executive General Manager of Talent Management – Asia-Pacific.

“Organisations need to understand what it is that motivates their employees and connect the dots between the motivational drivers of those in different ages and stages.”

Mr Moylan warns companies will also need to work out which are the best leaders, and skills, to take them into the future.

How to approach a boss from generation…

Baby boomer: recognise they are going to be more strategic, so you might need to talk longer-term as they may not pay as much attention to the short-term.

Gen X: this generation has a more flexible profile, so be open.

Gen Y: they have a preference for conceptual thinking, so talk big picture, don’t get down to the nitty gritty because you’ll lose them.

Gen Z: we don’t know anything about this generation yet, so be open-minded and don’t make assumptions.


Source:  The New Daily

Political Correspondent

A MASSIVE spending burden threatens to tip the nation into decades of deficits, according to new government findings that will be released early next year to jolt parliament — and the public — into accepting another wave of budget reform.

Setting a new strategy in the political fight over difficult ­savings, Joe Hockey has decided to hold back the official analysis to maximise its impact on national debate when parliament sits in February.

The findings will set off a debate over the nation’s long-term challenges by feeding into the tax reform white paper, which will consider the GST, and influencing the federation white paper on key issues such as the mounting cost of healthcare.

Mr Hockey considered publishing the long-range Intergenerational Report this year but rejected the option in favour of timing the new Treasury analysis to prepare the ground for further savings in the May budget.

The Treasurer, who is in New York and Washington this week for a series of meetings with business leaders and fellow finance ministers, warned of a “massive growth” in costs to be revealed in the IGR as the population ages and the commonwealth struggles to keep paying for the services Australians have come to expect.

“The IGR will come out early next year — not late this year but early next year,” Mr Hockey told The Australian. “That will create a framework that will help define the destiny of the federation white paper, the tax white paper and the budget next year.

“So it is a document that will begin the national discussion about where our economy must go — which is to focus on growth and jobs, and to reduce the complexity and red tape of government.”

Highlighting the cost of inaction on major savings, the report is likely to contrast the long-term improvements from the Coal­ition’s budget measures with the steady increase in government spending if Labor, the Greens and others succeed in permanently scuttling the reforms.

Bill Shorten has vowed to destroy the government’s budget reforms in the parliament and at the ballot box, branding the savings unfair because those on low incomes feel the biggest cuts as a proportion of their income.

“Why is it that this is a government who always asks the most vulnerable to do the hardest and heaviest lifting?” the Opposition Leader said in parliament last week.

The government appears set to use the IGR to shift focus away from the immediate losers from each measure and pay more attention to the risks to future generations from continuing deficits.

The new document is expected to influence some of the government’s most fundamental tasks in the rest of this parliamentary term, including the federation white paper, as it examines the long-term savings from cutting duplication between commonwealth and state spending in areas such as health and education.

It will also have a direct impact on the tax white paper, which will examine incendiary ideas such as an increase in the rate and base of the GST, as well as the wider search for new savings for the May budget next year.

Mandated under federal law to show the nation’s fortunes over 40 years, the IGR was last issued in January 2010 and sparked a furious debate about an estimate that the population would rise to 36 million by 2040.

Labor initially aimed to produce another report three years later but chose not to as the 2013 election loomed, leading Mr Hockey to consider releasing the sensitive forecasts sometime this year. But a Senate blockade has contributed to another delay as the government tries to secure some of its budget savings in the upper house against the objections of Labor, the Greens, the Palmer United Party and others. The savings being stymied are worth about $30 billion over four years but would have a far greater impact on the long-term projections by cutting outlays on Medicare benefits, universities, family tax benefits and pensions.

Mr Hockey said he would not speculate on whether the next report would show any improvement in the deep deficits projected in the last report, which warned of a “fiscal gap” from the strain of paying for services as the population ages.

The January 2010 report found that federal government spending would exceed revenue by 2.75 per cent of GDP in 2040 on existing trends, as relatively fewer taxpayers had to carry the burden for a growing number of pensioners. Labor acted on the problem by legislating a future increase in the pension age to 67 and applying stricter tests on family tax benefits, but those reforms are not enough to fix the gap. “What the IGR will do is illustrate that the massive growth in costs associated with an ageing population have simply become more urgent for Australia to address,” Mr Hockey said.

The Coalition is seeking to extend some of the Labor reforms by making further cuts to family tax benefits — saving $7.4bn over four years from benefits worth $70bn over the same period — and trying to increase the pension age to 70.

While the pension age reform delivers no saving in the budget forward estimates, it starts to take effect from 2034 and would make a significant difference to the IGR projections. Mr Hockey confirmed to The Australian that the government was thinking of using contrasting projections in the next IGR to show the impact of its budget reforms when compared with “business as usual” if the Senate continues to stymie the changes.

“That’s certainly under consideration,” he said in an interview ahead of his visit to the US this week.

“There are some people who need to be reminded how important the structural reforms in the last budget were, and how essential they are for Australia to be able to live within its means in the future.”

A spending gap of 2.75 per cent of GDP would produce a deficit of about $50bn a year in today’s dollars. Last year’s deficit was 2.8 per cent of GDP but the government wants to cut this to 1.6 per cent in 2014-15.

Age Discrimination Starts Early!

These Strategies Can Help.

numbersWhile finishing her MBA at a top tier university, Sarah was enthusiastically recruited by a large company. She accepted their offer to join the marketing department. Once there, she connected with a powerful mentor who helped her snag plum assignments. For several years Sarah was the most junior professional in her group, and she enjoyed being treated like a young star.

After a few years, the growing company made a wave of new hires and Sarah began to feel neglected. She said she was stuck with routine workwhile the interesting new projects went to her younger colleagues.

Sarah was asked to supervise the internship program, but didn’t enjoy the work. She said the interns didn’t have the right work ethic and were obsessed by technology. One day as she entered the kitchen, she heard them making fun of her for being clueless about the power of social media.

When Sarah came to me for coaching, she complained that she was past her career peak. She felt like she was cut off from the company’s high potential challenges and might be too old to compete for another good job elsewhere. Sarah was 34 at the time.

Sarah felt she was the victim of age discrimination and to some degree her concerns were well founded. Ageism is rampant in the workplace and can be hard to fight. And even 30-something careerists like Sarah can find themselves sidelined by employers seeking fresh talent.

Sarah found ways to demonstrate her energy, talent and enthusiasm, and soon worked her way out of her slump. One thing that helped her was finding examples of older professionals whose age did need not seem to limit their success. She noticed that while some in her circle were dissed for being out of date, others seemed timeless despite their years.

If you’re facing a subtle age bias, a starting point for getting past it is to understand the negative stereotypes on which it’s based. Then make it clear that the stereotypes don’t fit you. Consider these strategies for minimizing the burden of ageism:

  •  Be tech-savvy. You don’t have to enjoy Skyping, sharing on Instagram or building a Twitter community. But if those are the ways that your colleagues or customers communicate, you absolutely must know how to join in. If you want to stay in the game, keep up with the technology. Take classes or find help, buy the devices, and do whatever it takes to keep your skills current.   And when you don’t understand the latest developments, avoid the temptation to indulge in a Luddite rant. Express an interest, ask for assistance and get on board.
  • Look and act fit. Some employers and younger workers believe that their older colleagues may have physical limitations that will prevent them from performing their fair share of the work. And your boss or clients won’t offer you new challenges if they think you are about to have a heart attack. If you want to maximize your career options, it is vital not only that you stay healthy but also that you look healthy and you exude energy.
  • Talk healthy. Most of us have health issues from time to time, but we can manage the way they impact us in the workplace. Beware of sabotaging yourself by talking too much about your symptoms or crises. If you endlessly discuss your health challenges, not only will you be boring, but people may start to think of you as frail and over the hill. Talk about the great hike you took last weekend, instead of how sore you felt on Monday morning.
  • Be stylish. Looking shabby may seem cool when you’re 27. But the older you get, the more important it is to look polished and up to date. If your clothes, hairdo or glasses seem out of style, you may seem like you are past your prime. That doesn’t mean you should dress like a kid, but you should aim for a look that feels current.
  • Don’t bring up your age. If you are older – or younger – than the people you work with, it is very tempting to keep mentioning that fact.   But if you can refrain from alluding to the age difference, there is a good chance that other people will forget about it.
  • Build a varied network. If you are accustomed to hanging out with friends of all ages, you are more likely to blend easily into a group of younger or older people. If you don’t allow age to be a barrier in your social life, you will be more comfortable talking and keeping up with different age groups at work.
  • Listen to your colleagues. A great starting point for building strong relationships at work is to genuinely listen to what other people have to say. If you’re part of the older set, show an interest in what younger folks say and learn from their perspective.

If you put aside your own prejudices about age and look for opportunities to work on projects with people of all generations, you’ll become more skillful at avoiding the burden of age bias.

More incentives for first movers on higher rehiring age

THE Government has accepted the recommendations of the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers to raise the age ceiling for the re-employment of older workers to 67 from 65. This will be done through promotional means supported by incentives.

The idea is to give companies more time to prepare for this before legislation kicks in. The legislation will be introduced at an “appropriate time”.

The PAP Seniors’ Group (PAP.SG) welcomes this move, which is a progressive step and will help to boost the employment prospects of our older workers.

The Government has moved to bolster the position of our seniors in health care and housing through its recent policy changes, and it makes great sense now to focus on employment. This is an important way of ensuring that our seniors remain independent and can continue to live with dignity. To be able to work for as long as they wish to and earn a steady stream of income is greatly empowering for our seniors.

Raising the rehiring age to 67 is not just good for the individual. It also makes great economic sense. It is projected that by 2030, there will be 900,000 people aged 65 years and above. If our total fertility rate remains at 1.2 and we have no immigration, there will be only 2.1 working age citizens for every citizen above the age of 65 in 2030. If we do not extend the productive working age of our older workers, our growth will be affected.

Companies, too, benefit, and much has been said about the value of older workers. In a survey conducted last year by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices, the majority of the companies which responded agreed that mature workers benefited them through lower turnover rates and reduced absenteeism.

While promotional means is a practical solution to give employers more time to adjust, I do hope that the Government will not take too long to legislate the extension.

I have no doubt that the unions will be able to push through the extension among unionised companies, but the worry will be the non-unionised companies, where this may not be a priority. To some extent, the proposed incentives may help and are a good move, as most employers have cited costs as a concern, but the question is whether this will provide enough push for companies to voluntarily raise the ceiling.

I also hope that incentives will not have the unintended consequence of devaluing the contribution of older workers, particularly for those who would be re-employed in any case because their services are needed.

Nevertheless, to really ensure that the incentives have an impact, the Government could consider introducing a sliding scale of benefits, whereby those who come on board earlier are given more incentives compared to those who respond later. In this way, hopefully, most companies would be encouraged to raise the rehiring age ceiling faster.

According to employers, they need more time to redesign jobs and work processes and to retrain older workers. I find this surprising as such measures should already have been put in place when the rehiring age ceiling was raised to 65. There cannot be that many major changes that have to be made for the working age to be increased by just an additional two years.

Also, employers’ concern about medical costs should, to a large extent, be addressed by MediShield Life that comes into effect next year, as a larger portion of hospitalisation charges will be covered. Hence, prudent employers may want to rationalise their own medical benefits scheme with MediShield Life, to address this concern.

The training of older workers is another major area in ensuring that their skills remain relevant and useful to companies’ needs. There are now already available training grants and programmes that companies can tap to prepare their older workers, so that lack of skills should not be an excuse. The tripartite partners could also do a lot more to highlight positive examples of enlightened companies that have voluntarily raised the rehiring ceiling, even without any incentives.

One example is Prima. A few years ago, I officiated at an event where the company gave out long service awards to its employees. There were employees who had served the company for more than 40 years and were in their 70s. It felt really good to see a company that values its workers so much.

In August last year, Prima signed a collective agreement with the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers’ Union to offer 65-year-old workers, with satisfactory performance and good health, employment contracts until age 68.

I urge more companies to emulate Prima’s example and waste no time in raising the rehiring age ceiling of their older workers. I am heartened, too, by the public sector’s positive response to the recommendation, as its hiring practices have a deep impact on the private sector.

Finally, we need to address the concerns of older workers who have lost their jobs and are trying to get back into the workforce, which the recommendation will not cover. Among their biggest hurdles in seeking employment are hiring practices that are still biased against them. Employers should be prepared to give them a chance, rather than turn them away just because of their age.

I would like to suggest that companies hiring unemployed older workers be given incentives too, and not only those who raise the rehiring age ceiling of existing workers. It would also be useful to conduct a study on the hiring practices of companies to ascertain whether this bias really exists or whether there are other valid factors involved that affect the hiring of older workers. In this way, more effective strategies could be developed to boost older workers’ chances of securing a job.

The tripartite partners have made a good move. The challenge now is to make sure that the recommendation works.

The writer is the Speaker of Parliament and chairman of the PAP Seniors’ Group.

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A new generation of retirees is heading back to work. Here’s some advice on how to snag one of those encore jobs

Encore! Encore! One more time.

That’s what many retired Canadians want to do: Go back to work, try something new, perhaps with fewer hours and less pay, but find a way to keep active, stay engaged and get paid for it.

Longevity is rising, we’re healthier and so the traditional notion of retirement has faded. Some want to work because they have to and others because they want to.

But if our needs are changing, our employers aren’t keeping up with the times, says Adina Lebo, chair of the downtown Toronto chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired People (CARP). Attitudes in the workplace are geared to forcing older workers out of full-time work and few employers have mechanisms to offer a transition to part-time work.

“The workforce is built to push people out at 65,” says Lebo, who joined CARP four years ago after a 30-year career in the film and TV industry. “While people are looking for a continuation of their career, or a way to apply their skills in a new area, the doors are often closed.”

CARP sponsored a job fair in Toronto last year to link employers with 50+ candidates. There was plenty of interest from companies with franchising and sales opportunities. The former requires an investment on your part and the latter uses your networks to sell products or services.

“There’s no ageism in sales,” says Lebo. “It’s on commission, so there’s no risk to the employer. They use you and your community to sell, so that was wide open.”

There are jobs out there for older works, but competition is stiff. For many, the first step is dusting off their resumes and polishing rusty interview skills.

Marie Bountrogianni, a former Ontario cabinet minister and currently Dean of the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University, has some advice. Here are her five top job hunting tips for older workers.

Three things to avoid in an interview:

Talking about your age: “This is always tricky,” says Bountrogianni, who has a Ph.D. in education and was chief psychologist for the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board before entering politics.

“Employers are not allowed to ask about your age, but they often hint at it. Talk around your age in constructive ways. [For example,] you can indicate that because you no longer have little children you have a lot of flexibility around scheduling.

Tipping your tech hand: “Be careful. Don’t just say you use Facebook and Twitter. Show how you have used social media to increase sales, or promote an event, so they won’t think you are on it all the time.”

Don’t say, I’m ready for a change: “While it may be very true, it sounds like you are bored, and have grown stale in your current job,” Bountrogiann says.

Two ways to spruce up your resume:

Age proof it: Don’t go back to the beginning of your career. Choose the experiences that relate to the job you are applying for. Do not put in specific dates for jobs or schooling.

Show what you have done: Use a functional, rather than chronological resume, so that you can bundle your experiences without dating them and relate skills to the job advertised.

Bountrogianni says employers want to know you’re not planning to coast at their expense.

They also want to know you are still current, so she advises taking courses in your field of interest and keeping up to date. Always have questions in an interview, because employers want you to be interested in them and about their job.

Bountrogianni is Ontario’s representative on Skills Connect Inc., a national non-profit organization founded by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce in 2010. It receives government funding and owns ThirdQuarter, a national employment recruiter for people aged 45 and over. More agencies are working with older adults, including The Challenge Factory, which has offices in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa.

The Chang School offers programs of interest to 50+ workers. Wednesday, Bountrogianni is hosting a free breakfast between 8:30 and 10:30 as part of a panel discussion on aging in the workforce. It is being held at Heaslip House, 7th Floor, 297 Victoria Street.

Toronto Star

Companies adopt practices to cater to older workers

Absolute Kinetics Consultancy, which provides safety training services, has about 130 workers, five of whom are above the age of 60. To cater to their needs, the company gives them screen filters for their computers to protect their eyes from the glare. They also get free yearly health screenings, which are extended to their spouses and parents.

Absolute Kinetics Consultancy’s executive chairman, Mr Fang Koh Look, said these practices have not been developed overnight. Since 2008, he has sought feedback from his employees, sometimes over coffee.

“You talk to them and ask them, ‘What can I do as an employer to make you feel more equipped, to make you feel more supported?'” Mr Fang elaborated.

Supermarket chain Giant also places importance on older workers. One hundred and forty-four of its 240 workers are above the age of 60. The company allows them to change job scopes to maximise their strengths.

The supermarket uses rolled cages to move products around the store. These can be heavy so a smaller version of the cage, which is much lighter, is available for older workers to use.

“Age is just a number. What we have to do as a worker is to have a positive mind. We must be able to think positively, do things positively, then I think we will succeed. And we will be able to share our experiences with the younger workers, and mentor them at the same time,” said Mr Arumugam Haridass, department manager of Giant.

On Monday (Sep 29), the Government announced that companies which voluntarily re-employ workers up to the age of 67 will receive incentives. Details will be announced at a later date.

Source:  Channel News Asia (Singapore)