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NTUC partners Tsao Foundation to study and improve mature workers’ employability

Both parties also shared their 2023 findings on “Population Ageing and Slowing Workforce Growth”
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By Ian Tan Hanhonn 05 Feb 2024
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NTUC and Tsao Foundation signed a five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) on 5 February 2024 to analyse challenges faced by mature workers.


The agreement will see both organisations committing to two research studies to enhance mature workers' employability, and improve employers’ value perception of mature workers.


NTUC and Tsao Foundation will also conduct two sandbox projects to showcase best practices or innovative ideas related to mature workers.


The MOU was signed by NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay and Tsao Foundation Chief Operating Officer Bita Seow during the Silver Talent: Strategies for Empowering and Retaining Mature Workers symposium at the NTUC Centre.


NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng, who witnessed the signing, said: “I’m glad we have this MOU signing. There are already two projects in the pipeline for us to anchor our advocacy with Tsao Foundation and NTUC... [These will] provide database for proper analysis and research, and for our universities to put in credible policy proposals to answer the external things that are going to challenge Singapore."


The MOU also comes after NTUC and Tsao Foundation, in collaboration with Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), conducted a research study called Population Ageing and Slowing Workforce Growth in 2023.


Key insights from the research


The research  which consisted of surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions – was conducted between February and August 2023.


Some 600 C-suite level executives, hiring managers, and HR managers across 16 industries were involved in the consultation.


The study found many employers regard training as the most effective way to ensure mature workers remain employable while extending their career runway.


Despite this mindset, training to ensure mature workers’ employability was not the top practice adopted by companies.


Instead, the majority of employers chose to implement flexible work arrangements to keep mature workers employed.


NTUC and Tsao Foundation noted that the “discrepancy between perceived and practised strategies presents a threat to both mature workers and employers”. They added that there is a need to bridge the gap between knowing the importance of training, and its practical adoption in the working environment.


Both said that while flexible work arrangements are important, including training in companies’ work plans can contribute to a more comprehensive strategy to ensure mature workers remain employable.


They said: “For companies to sustain competitiveness, they must ensure every worker, regardless of age, possesses the necessary knowledge and skills for the job — more so for mature workers.


“For workers to have a reasonable and realistic prospect of working longer, they must have the skills needed by the company. Otherwise, the job-skill mismatch will lead to lose-lose outcomes for both sides.”


Recommendations from the research


To help improve mature workers’ employability, NTUC and Tsao Foundation recommended enhancing awareness campaigns and outreach programmes to educate employers and the public of the value and capabilities that mature employees bring.


Both organisations also recommended reviewing existing training curriculums to ensure that the content in training programmes are sufficient and comprehensive.


NTUC also urged companies to continue to adopt flexible work arrangements and job redesign to accommodate the diverse needs and experiences of mature workers.