Retire? Maybe Not Just Yet!

Retirement Age

Mature workers form a huge part of Singapore’s workforce, and this number is expected to grow over the years.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Manpower, the number of mature workers above the age of 65 who were either working or looking for work rose from 14.3 per cent in 2006 to 26.8 per cent in 2017.

Many stay on beyond the retirement age, to continue earning a living. Meet two in our article who are beyond 80!

For as long as they can contribute, they want to continue working. Almost every mature worker we’ve featured on LabourBeat said this when asked about retirement. They come from varying backgrounds from the tech-savvy digital specialists to the humble general cleaner.

Should we then ask if there is really a need for a retirement age?

In a labour-lean economy where manpower is getting harder to come by, capable and willing mature workers can still be an economic powerhouse group beyond the re-employment age of up to 67, given the right training and job-redesign.

As we reflect on that, let’s recap on some mature workers who have graced our site and shared their thoughts on the issue.

Chan Kum Yew

Chan Kum Yew, 61, Senior Consultant at Integrated Decision Systems Consultancy

Kum Yew, an electrical engineer by training, changed careers late in his professional life, having successfully completed the Professional Conversion Programme for Data Analysts at NUS-ISS earlier this year.

“No one retires. If this happens, people being judged based on their age will be minimised. Older workers should not be left to become cleaners or have their jobs downgraded. Rather, they must be allowed to do work according to their capabilities.”

Read his full story: Is the Digital Economy Only for the Young?

Despite his age, Mr Harbhajan Singh has gotten familiar with technology at work.

Harbhajan Singh, 78, Senior Nurse Manager at Tan Tock Seng Hospital

When many of his colleagues retired, Harbhajan was at the frontlines battling the SARS crisis. He was 63 then.

Now at the age of 78, Harbhajan is still going strong at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, contributing his experience, skills and expertise.

“I feel healthy because I’m working. I come to work, meet people, socialise with them, I do tasks assigned to me and fulfil my function. This keeps me physically and mentally fit. The knowledge I have can be used to guide the next generation of nurses and benefit them. At the same time, I also learn from them. We must go on with continuing our education. We cannot just stop at one level if we want to progress.”

Read his full story: Beating the Age Barrier

Photo: Jonathan Tan

Teo Hang Meng, 82, General Cleaner (right) and Teo Eng Kok, 83, Security Officer (left) at NTUC Centre

Both have the same family name, both are in their 80s and both work at the NTUC Centre.

But there is one defining similarity that both share when it comes to their jobs. Both want to continue working for as long as they can.

“I don’t know, I’m still strong. If one day I feel that I don’t have the energy anymore, maybe I will stop. But now, I still can work,” said Hang Meng.

Eng Kok, on the other hand, said: “People will come to me and ask, ‘Wah Teo, you are so old, you can take standing for long hours?’ I say that it is not very difficult. If we do our job properly, time tends to fly, and you barely realise that 12 hours have passed.”

Read their full stories: Meet the Two Teos

Eric Tan, 66, Senior Lift Technician at Chevalier

He may be 66 now, but Eric possesses the physicality and tenacity of a man in his 20s.

Eric’s job requires him to climb into a lift shaft, and even balance on a metal beam only about a foot wide with his safety gear on. That may sound scary to you and me, but Eric takes it in his stride.

He can still do whatever his younger counterpart does, or even more, thanks to his experience of more than 40 years in the industry.

Eric is one of the oldest lift technicians currently working at Chevalier and is glad that he has found his calling in this ever-demanding industry

“When I first started in this industry, I told myself that I will be in this for a long time … As long as I can work and the company needs me, I will continue working.”

Read his full story: Working on for as Long as Possible

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