Raymond Ong, with his slicked-back hair and immaculate white shirt, arrives perfectly turned out for a shift as a busser at Lawry’s The Prime Rib Singapore, where he has worked for the past several months.
The proportion of workers aged over 60 in Singapore is 12%, more than double the figure a decade ago. At Lawry’s, six out of 55 staff are 60 or over.
Lawry’s had few older workers until three years ago. Director Kevin Koh said older members of staff were brought in to solve a labor shortage.
The company introduced flexible working hours to accommodate older staff, whose hard work and diligence have become a great asset. Koh said he wants to hire more elderly staff.
In 2012, the Singaporean government called on companies to rehire employees who had reached the retirement age of 62 until they turned 65. In July 2017, the age will be lifted to 67.
The employment rate of 65- to 69-year-olds is 42%, up from 25% in 2006. In early July, Vice Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the country would have no retirement age in the future.
As of 2014, Singapore’s total fertility rate was 1.25, one of the lowest in the world. With the country expected to face a more serious labor shortage, the government decided that utilizing elderly workers would be a good way to keep the economy moving. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said senior citizens can contribute to the country’s economic development, but there are two issues to contend with.