Older folk have it worse
Letter from Roland Ang
05:55 AM Aug 17, 2009
I REFER to the Big Story, “I applied for 100 jobs” by Venessa Lee, published in the revamped Weekend Today (Aug 15-16).
Her story best summed up the recent debates on the difficulties faced by job seekers in our current employment landscape. Armed with an honours degree, Ms Lee only received four offers after sending out 100 job applications; the offers were mostly commission-based jobs in real estate and insurance.
The writer is still in her 30s. Can you imagine what obstacles jobseekers in their 40s and 50s face?
Our employment landscape will continue to discriminate against older workers unless society, led by the Government, walks the talk. Older teachers and lecturers are being “retired” prematurely in favour of the younger and better qualified. Soldiers and policemen are also expected to “retire” between 45 to 55 when retirement age in other sectors has been raised to 62. Even our future Prime Minister is expected to be in his 30s now so he can be groomed to take over in his late 40s or early 50s.
Why is age always being made an issue?
There is nothing wrong with giving opportunities to and grooming our youth, as they will be the ones leading us in the future. However, the over-emphasis on youth in every sphere has created a mindset that employing younger folk is the way forward. The common perception that older workers are harder to train, slower to adapt and physically challenged needs to be changed.
If the older workers remain unemployed for a prolonged period, it will put a strain on our younger workforce to support and maintain their unemployed parents. It makes no sense for the Ministry of Manpower to raise the retirement age to 65 when workers in the 40s and 50s can’t even get employed.
Perhaps the Government could consider offering employment to the unemployed on a short-term basis, ranging from three months to a year, depending on skill level. I am sure the current H1N1 situation, Formula 1 Grand Prix and the upcoming YOG offer many opportunities for the unemployed …