Old is gold: Senior workers bring experience, passion to the workplace

January 28, 201510:35 am1005 views
Old is gold: Senior workers bring experience, passion to the workplace
Old is gold: Senior workers bring experience, passion to the workplace

SINGAPORE: The retirement age in the Republic is 62, after which employers have to offer re-employment until the age of 65. As more people live longer and are healthier, the Government is looking to raise this to 67.

Channel NewsAsia spoke with a few senior employees for their views on working after retirement.

Mr Tan Kwee Soon and Mr Chionh Kwong Woon are senior site supervisors at Straits Construction. They are both 70 years old.

Having worked in the industry for over three decades, they do not see themselves hanging up their helmets any time soon.

Said Mr Chionh: “My interest is in construction, so that’s what I will continue doing. That’s how it is. If I retire I will just be at home doing nothing anyway, so I would rather work. We are on our feet every day so that’s exercise too.”

Mr Tan agreed: “We are used to construction work already so there’s really nothing dangerous. Personally I haven’t thought about retiring. I’ll retire when I can’t work anymore.”

Mr Tan supervises concrete works, while Mr Chionh is in charge of architecture and fixing defects. They are the oldest workers in the company but that is not an issue with their employer.

Executive Director Kenneth Loo said it is a misconception that construction sites are dangerous, as there are measures in place to minimise risk. These include regular health check ups for older employees.

Said Mr Loo: “If the conditions are not that favourable, we will try and redeploy them to jobs that are more suitable for their physical well-being. There are lots of jobs within the construction industry that actually can be suitable for people like that. I am more than prepared to employ somebody even if they are of advanced age.”

Straits Construction employs almost 370 people, excluding foreign workers. Six of them are above the age of 65.


Said Mr Loo: “The problem we have today is that there is a lack of experienced people in the industry – so with these people (older workers) they will be able to train and pass on what they have learnt over the years to our people.”

“Industry knowledge is the most important. We can impart this to the next generation. We can teach them on site and address any questions or problems they have. This way they will be able to gain more experience and improve in their work,” said Mr Chionh.

Mr Bok Chee Meng is another senior worker who hopes to impart his experience to the younger generation. The 61-year-old literally works in the fast lane – inspecting amusement rides for the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), including roller coasters, ferris wheels and the Torpedo, a three-storey water slide at water theme park Wild Wild Wet.

Said Mr Bok: “Actually when I go to theme parks I am not going there for enjoyment, because naturally you tend to look out for things, although it could be your off day with your family.”

BCA said younger officers usually take on the physically demanding jobs, but older officers like Mr Bok may continue their physical duties, as long as they are active and fit.

“I enjoy the work. It’s very stimulating for the mind; it’s very challenging. I enjoy the environment, it’s very nice in the park. Although our work is serious at times when we go and conduct checkings, but all in all it’s a very enjoyable career,” Mr Bok added.

For Mr Bok and Singapore’s older workers, it is clear that having passion for a job will keep you in it for the long ride.


news source & image credits: channelnewsasia.com

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