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Sunday April 20th 2014

Working after 62 – is it possible?

I refer to our Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s recent urge for retirees to keep on working  after their retirement age at 62.

There is enough scientific proof to show that retirees who keep on working long after their retirement has found a new-found  zest for living.

Of course, there will be those who are desperately dying to get out of their humdrum routine  and go without work for the rest of their life after retirement. 

After working for the past few decades, this no-work orientation is completely understandable.

I tend to believe that this group may also belong to those who loathe their work and only work to pay for their bills. If work is so enjoyable and the employer wants you to stay after retirement age, why leave?

Don’t be surprised that this no-work retirement group  forms  a huge proportion of our local workforce here.

 This group may  find life very routine and when retirement age arrives, they will not hesitate to leave their  9-to-5 routine and look for something more exciting for themselves. It could be a hobby or even a long-held dream to do something for themselves which they never find the time to while working.

I have  also known a few retirees who are afraid to leave their workplaces after retirement  as they simply could not fathom  life without work.  Some have even told me that after retirement, they live life as if heading for the grave as its both boring and meaningless –  without any clear goal.

Many took endless holidays to make them feel that they are active and on the go. Once stranded at home, they are usually restless and even feel useless with nothing to do.

They felt lost and frightened as they do not know what to do next with their life. More importantly, they lose the focus for their life and nothing can easily replace the dignity that work can bring to a person’s life. 

Work creates a sense of belonging and esteem for the person and we feel valued when compensated for it monetarily. This is especially so for guys  who feel that their self worth is tied to their work.

There is also the financial loss that comes with retirement as we do not have a proper pension scheme in place in Singapore.

Many still need to pay the home mortgage and retirement may mean selling their house and downgrading their lifestyle. I believe that many people are not ready to retire yet as we don’t save enough for our retirement.

My financial planner has helped me plan out how much I need when I retire. If I require $2000 a month for the next 20 years, I need at least $750,000 in the kiddy by the time I retire!

I told her that I don’t even have one  percent of that amount yet and I am already reaching 50 in a year’s time…

A new-found hobby, cultivated after retirement, can provide some joy and even take  away alot of the free  time  but can never bring the kind of self esteem that work brings.

It is no wonder that once a person stops working, he lapses straight into depression as he has lost that focus and sharpness. It really takes quite a while to adjust oneself to life without a job that has being the main goal of many people here.

Living one’s life without a goal and aim can be really meaningless. That is my fear for most of our retirees here.

However, in Singapore, is it practical to keep on working way after  retirement age especially in a fast-paced stressful society like ours ? Many local employers prefer to hire younger foreign workers over our older local ones as they are seen to be faster and cheaper.

It does not make economic sense to hire a more expensive and older worker unless there is enough legislation puts in place to ensure that the older worker’s employment rights are in place.

MM Lee can continue to work at the pace he wants as he is  the boss here. He can work half a day or even take a long lunch nap daily without anyone snapping at his work rate. The same could not be said  for many others earning a salary at the work place. He has to perform up to expectations or else he is rendered not economically productive and may even be laid off.

For many people in their 50s, the body has slowed considerably and the mind ain’t that sharp anymore.

Work that requires strength and good bodily co-ordination may not be viable for those wanting to work in their twilight years.

I remembered my dad used to sleep at least half the afternoon to prepare for his night shift driving taxi when he was in his 50s. He has since passed away twenty five years ago.

In my late 40s now, I have to go to bed at ten o’clock nowadays as the body and energy level tends to slip considerably  at that hour. 

At my age, you also learn things slower now as the mind takes more time to prcess new information. The hands are also stiffer and the back aches once you stand for more than an hour at a stretch.

Though MM Lee may have speak for alot of retirees out there who still want to contribute their skills and experience at the work places after retirement, it is unsure how practical it will be for this to be realised.

I know of a ex MOE-trained teacher who still teaches as an adjunct teacher at the age of 62. He looks sharp and recently even  starts a small one-man business.

 I am amazed at his zeal for living and attributes his active passion for living to his optimistic outlook of life. He is also  the outdoor type and even hike around alot in Malaysia at his age. Sometimes, his boundless energy   puts me to shame!

Personally, I wont want to go back to work after retirement for the sake of working. It has to be work that I enjoy and something that I am capable of doing. If I need to be retrained all over again to be employed, that will be too much of a hassle for me.

I am all for upgrading and reskilling but it must be a job that I really like to do and not something that is pushed to me.

I guess many retirees have no choice as they need the finances to get by after they have retire and will take on any job that pays the bills.

I guess if you want to work on after retirement, go for it as no one can stop you from  contributing if you can find an employer willing to hire you due to your skillsets and work experience.

For those who want to leave work immediately upon retirement and do something on their own, it is also a personal decision and choice. No one can decide for you – not even the MM.

Reader Feedback

3 Responses to “Working after 62 – is it possible?”

  1. Richard says:

    The problem is not about working beyond the retirement age. MM Lee and the bunch of PAP ministers are totally out of touch of what is happening on the ground.

    I have a friend who is now 52 years old and is looking for a job. He has gone for numerous interviews and is not able to secure a job, because the HR dept of many companies told him that he is too old. He is not looking for high salary or choosy about jobs. He wanted to find a job that can pay him a monthly salary of $1,400 so that he can pay for his family expenses. I believe there are thousands of such citizens in Singapore who are in the same predicament as my friend.

    If the current government is not able to help citizens of Singapore to secure jobs with a decent pay, why talk about retirement age? If this is allowed to continue, the resentment by these jobless citizens against the PAP government will grow. The only solution that these millionaire ministers can give is to go for training and retraining. Singaporeans who lost their jobs do not mind going for training, so long as there are secure jobs waiting for them after the training is over.

    MM Lee and the PAP ministers should make it their No. 1 priority to tackle the problem of unemployment among Singapore citizens first, especially those in the age group of forties and fifties.Stop making useless speeches by telling them that you are already doing your best and that more foreign workers are needed so that Singapore can grow. Do you think for a single moment that the thousands of jobless Singaporeans would want to hear these crap speeches? These group of unemployed Singaporeans are desperate and angry, and it is the paramount duty of the PAP government to help its citizens.

  2. Derrick says:

    They are out of touch with the ground really.
    when I go for interview, most of the time there will be a questioned bound to be asked : do u still need to go back to ICT ?

    Also, It is not whether there is a retirement age of not, it is the indifferent, to say the least, attitude of so called some of the HR professionals.

    In Canada where i lived before i went to work in China, there is a minimum wage scheme, and employees are protected.

    I went once to a interview with a newly set up organization of one of our newly setup gaming industry..one of the interviewer said: O …you should go back to China, they need you experience.

    So now i am more determined to get out of Singapore now…i will more appreciated oversea. And i am also learning to trade well and teach people later in my golden years. This is one way to ensure i have no retirement age but not begging people for a job and while still enjoying my passion trading. And might be living somewhere cheaper and more enjoyable.

  3. jerome says:

    to the question in your headline: the answer by and large is no, unless you perhaps have your own little business or are willing to do menial, brainless work.

    my cousin emigrated in the 80s because he got fed up of being told he was too old. he was a marine pilot. at the time, he was 37….

    all those with 30-yr mortgages for hdb flats are going to find themselves in deep doo-doo abt 10, 15 yrs into their mortgage. quite simply, they cannot count on still being employed from about the age of 40, even with re-training, up-skilling etc etc. they’ll be seen as too old…. count on that, singapore.

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