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Singapore employers see training as most effective way of keeping mature workers employable

Singapore employers see training as most effective way of keeping mature workers employable

Yet, when asked about the measures currently practised in their organisations, a majority cited flexible work arrangements 48%), while training plans ranked sixth (28%).

Employers in Singapore regard implementing training plans as the most effective way to ensure employability of mature workers and to extend their career runway, according to a recent survey

In particular, 25% of the respondents identified training as the most effective human resource strategy, making it their top choice; followed by flexible work arrangements (17%), and health & wellness support (14%).

While this was so, it is not the top practice currently adopted by companies. In fact, when asked about the measures currently practised in their organisations (with the option to select multiple responses), a majority of employers chose flexible work arrangements 48%), while training plans ranked sixth (28%).

The survey, conducted by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Tsao Foundation, involved 601 C-suite level executives, hiring and HR managers across 16 industries in Singapore, from July to August 2023. In response to the findings, both NTUC and Tsao Foundation highlighted that the discrepancy between perceived and practised strategies presents a threat to both mature workers and employers; and underscores the need to bridge the gap between recognising the importance of training and its practical application.

This is further affirmed by Ministry of Manpower data which revealed that 27% of Singapore's resident labour force today is made up of workers aged 55 and above. At the same time, it has been estimated that in 2030, for every worker exiting the workforce, there will only be 0.7 local workers entering. "This means the ageing of the local workforce is set to accelerate. At the same time, business models, technologies and processes are changing rapidly. With the ageing workforce, possibly shrinking resident labour pool and lower training participation of mature workers, companies may struggle to stay competitive and sustainable."

"While flexible work arrangements are important and widely adopted, addressing the disparity in implementing training plans can contribute to a more comprehensive strategy to ensure sustained employment for mature workers.

"For companies to sustain competitiveness, they must ensure every worker, regardless of age, possesses the necessary knowledge and skills for the job — more so for mature workers. For workers to have a reasonable and realistic prospect of working longer, they must have the skills needed by the company. Otherwise, the job-skill mismatch will lead to lose-lose outcomes for both sides," it was affirmed.

Against this backdrop, NTUC and Tsao Foundation have, on 5 February 2024 (Monday), released a set of recommendations for employers to consider in order to ensure the right training for their mature workforce, thus sustaining their employment:

  1. Enhance awareness campaigns and outreach programmes to the community, targeting both employers and employees. The goal is to educate employers and the public about the value and capabilities of mature employees.
  2. Have in place sufficient and comprehensive content in training programmes, to mitigate a mismatch in training programmes and companies’ needs and expectations. This includes reviewing existing training curriculums, ensuring that training providers and employers have an agreement on the level of expertise required for certain roles, and conducting regular reviews to stay updated on changing expectations and demands.
  3. NTUC has also urged companies to "press on with implementing flexible work arrangements and job redesign to accommodate the diverse needs and experiences of mature workers." These efforts can be supported by assistance provided by NTUC's Training & Placement Ecosystem, along with various Government grant programmes, to subsidise both consultancy and implementation costs.

NTUC and Tsao Foundation sign five-year MOU to collaborate on mature workers' employment

On the same theme, NTUC and Tsao Foundation signed on the same day a five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will delve deeper into the issues faced by mature workers, and see the two organisations collaborate on two key areas:

  1. Two research studies to enhance mature workers' employability and improve the understanding of mature workers’ value to employers.
  2. Two sandbox projects to showcase best practices or innovative ideas related to mature workers.

The MOU was signed by NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Strategy Director Patrick Tay and Tsao Foundation Chief Operating Officer Bita Seow, and witnessed by NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng and Tsao Foundation Deputy Chief Executive Officer Dr Paul Ong.

ALSO READ: Ahead of Budget 2024, here’s what employers and workers in Singapore should know


Photo: Provided by NTUC

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