Harnessing the silver workforce

01 Apr 2011

An aging workforce and dwindling birthrates are seeing more economies facing a labour crisis where the number of new entrants to the workforce is inadequate to meet the required labour demand. In 2004, more than nine percent of the population in Asia-Pacific was 60 years or older. The figure is expected to reach 23.5% by 2050.

To cope with the inevitability of talent shortage, companies must look to the mature workforce to help fill the gaps.


Silver is the new black

Working well into the silver years is now the new reality. Apart from economic reasons pushing more senior workers to remain in the workforce, many continue working to keep mentally alert and physically fit.

Older workers are known for their extensive experience, loyalty and stability. Each time a mature employee resigns or retires, organisations lose years of valuable knowledge, skills and experience. Such loss is critical in industries that already have a tight labour force.


Attracting, retraining and retaining mature employees

In Singapore, employers will be required to offer re-employment to their workers when they reach the age of 62 when the new employment law kicks in on 1 January 2012. They can then continue to work until they are 65 – this will eventually be raised to 67. But re-employment may not necessarily be in the same job or at the same pay.

Some employers have already taken a step ahead to tap the mature workforce. Employers have coaxed their ex-staff out of retirement by re-engineering or re-designing jobs to facilitate the latter’s needs and offering flexible working arrangements as well as flexible benefits.

One of the many ways companies can increase their pool of mature employees is to include them in mentorship programmes to pass on their knowledge to their younger counterparts. Leveraging on their expertise and extensive experience, retired professionals can be offered consultancy or advisory roles. Companies can hire qualified mature employees on a contract or part-time basis as well. Not only will companies meet knowledge transfer needs, older workers will appreciate the work life balance the job offers too.

To enhance employability and engagement, companies should have a career development programme for their mature staff – being older does not mean there is no room for professional growth. Training their older employees and upgrading their skills ensures they are kept relevant in today’s workforce.


Resumes and interviews revisited

One of the biggest perceptions in hiring older workers is that their skills are outdated and they are not willing to learn new skills. Therefore, mature workers need to show how they are still current in today’s workforce, particularly highlighting their computer and technical skills, willingness to learn and keeping their skills updated. They have to demonstrate they are flexible, creative and able to work in a diverse-age environment.

For candidates intending to join the workforce after years of being a homemaker or volunteer, or have large breaks of unpaid experience in their job history, they should consider describing their skills as transferable and applicable to their next job.


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About The GMP Group


Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, The GMP Group is one of Singapore’s leading staffing and HR consultancies. Today, GMP is headquartered in Singapore with offices in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.


Josh Goh

Assistant Director, Corporate Services, The GMP Group

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