TL;DR – Keeping Older Workers Employable is the Best Form of Retirement Protection.
The National Day Rally is seen as the most important political speech of the year, when the Prime Minister addresses the nation and shares key policy matters. So far, there has been a National Day Rally every year since 1966, except for 2020, when Mr Lee made a speech in Parliament instead due to the pandemic. Seems like a lifetime ago! This year, PM Lee mentioned that he will touch on Singapore’s rapidly ageing population. He said that while the system had been progressively enhanced to ensure people save enough in their working years, some older workers in their 50s and early 60s “still have not built up enough CPF savings for retirement, and can do with some extra help”. I guess, older workers can look forward to some assistance in this area?
Supporting older workers
Over the decades, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) has always supported this group of older workers. They have been pushing firmly to raise the effective retirement age of Singaporeans in a move to help senior workers who CHOOSE to work longer to work longer, meaning you don’t need to be forced to retire when you actually want to continue working when you are actually past the statutory retirement age! Singapore has seen employment rates for senior workers improve amid efforts to help them stay productive.
Mr Heng Chee How, NTUC’s deputy secretary-general, has previously shared that “Keeping Older Workers Employable is the Best Form of Retirement Protection”. True that! Helping them stay longer in employment beyond their retirement age also means that they would continue to enjoy income stability and lead fulfilling lives. P.S. It doesn’t mean that you need to work till you die, ok? If you have the means to retire at 30, 40, 50s, nobody’s going to stop you… It’s a CHOICE.
The reality is that vulnerability of older workers is evident. Mr Heng Chee How also said that, if displaced, their risk of structural unemployment will be higher than the rest. This means that even if they are rehired, their earnings will likely be lower, negatively impacting retirement adequacy. The Labour MP believes that Singapore and Singaporeans will do better when we address age-fair employment through the lens of “enablement” more than that of “entitlement”. Workers of all ages can then continue to deliver value on the job amid endless changes to business models, job designs, work processes and technology. Employers, unions and workers must play an active role in timely, purposeful skills-building. Support for older workers is indeed important, since all of us will reach that stage one day!
While Mr Heng appreciated the Government’s move for improving the CPF contribution rates of workers aged 55 to 70 in January 2022, he said that on its own is insufficient for most to achieve retirement adequacy. For workers to be able to maximise their CPF retirement savings gained from work, they need to be in work for as many years as they are willing and able to, and for them to be able to qualify for both employer and employee CPF contributions as pay levels change with time. Training for them and mindset shifts in society will definitely help.
So, what else will be done to strengthen older workers’ retirement adequacy? Looking forward to PM Lee’s speech at NDR 2023!