Ageing Asia rethinks retirement to pursue 'productive longevity' - Nikkei Asian Review

Active seniors join robots as a potential answer to labor shortfalls


Excerpts from Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Aging-Asia-rethinks-retirement-to-pursue-productive-longevity


KENTARO IWAMOTO, Nikkei staff writer June 18, 2019 15:24 JST


SINGAPORE — Rosalind Tay left her job in April after she reached Singapore’s retirement age of 62, but she was far from ready to call it a career.


“I assume I will be living until 90-plus, like my parents, so I cannot survive based on my current savings,” said the former employee of a baby milk formula company. She said that medical bills are expensive, she wants to travel more, and she hopes to stay active to ward off dementia and other chronic diseases.


“I want to work as long as my body can.”


Singapore and other aging Asian societies are beginning to adjust their labor systems to accommodate people like Tay — and keep their own public welfare burdens in check. The city-state and governments across the region have started discussions on raising the age at which workers are expected, or in some cases required, to retire, delaying the start of pension payouts. But tapping the potential of senior workers is likely to take a lot more than just changing a number.


Singapore’s citizens and permanent residents aged 65 or older accounted for 13.7% of the population as of June 2018, up from 8.7% in 2008, making it one of the fastest-graying countries in Asia. People are also living longer: Singapore’s average life span in 2040 is expected to be 85.4 years, third-highest after Spain (85.8) and Japan (85.7), according to a study last year by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in the U.S.


In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review in May, Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat posed a key question his government is facing: “If our people are living longer, how do we create a structure that will enable them to continue to work if they wish to work?”


He said the city-state needs to deal with demographic changes to achieve what it calls “productive longevity.”


One challenge is to ensure seniors have the skills they need. Tay is enrolled in a program offered by the nonprofit Center For Seniors, where participants — mostly in their 50s and 60s — get a refresher course in preparing for job interviews and tips on maintaining motivation. “I learned the importance of being open, confident and willing to learn,” Tay said after a CFS seminar in early June. An average of 3,000 people attend various CFS programs each year.


Increasing the number of seniors in the workforce is seen as a crucial step toward shoring up Asian countries’ labor pools.


Singaporeans attend a job seminar organized by the Center For Seniors on June 10. (Photo by Kentaro Iwamoto)


Henry Quake, an adviser at the Center For Seniors in Singapore, said it is important for societies to help older citizens make the most of their talents. “The senior,” he said, “is a gold mine.”


Nikkei staff writers Mitsuru Obe in Tokyo, Masayuki Yuda in Bangkok and Mikhail Flores in Manila contributed to this story.


Continue Reading from Source: https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Aging-Asia-rethinks-retirement-to-pursue-productive-longevity


Scroll Up