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the population issue

Front row:

today wednesday 7 November 2012

the population issue

Back row:

today wednesday 7 November 2012

Of dreams, realities and opportunities

What does the future hold for todays youth, in a Singapore ageing rapidly over the next 20 years? Where do career, marriage and family factor into their aspirations? How do they weigh the necessities and trade-offs of a large foreign workforce, and the impact on their lives? Seven young Singapore citizens, aged from 17 to 27 and single, share their views with Senior Parliamentary Secretary Sim Ann in a two-hour roundtable discussion organised by TODAY. Here are the highlights.

Mr Mohamad Abdillah Zamzuri, 27

Entrepreneur running a culture and arts training consultancy Polytechnic and professional diploma holder

Ms Anmol Khan Rai, 17

Pre-U1 student at Millennia Institute Aspires to study law

ageing Trends By 2030, there could be a narrower base of working-age citizens

Mr Chan Kai Min, 25 Ms Sim Ann

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Law Final-year Singapore Management University student Doing a double degree in business management and political science

Age 65-69

Ms Hamidah Aidillah Mustafa, 27

Corporate communications executive Community volunteer and executive committee member of Mendaki Club

Ms Dinnie Ee, 17
JC1 student at Hwa Chong Institution Debater, Wants to enter public service

Age 20-24

Mr Jeremy Lua, 24
Final-year law student at the National University of Singapore President of NUS Criminal Justice Club
Photo Ooi Boon Keong

Ms Divya Murugan, 18
First-year student at Pioneer Junior College Born in India, here since the age of one, Aspiring doctor

Age 0-4 200K 0 200K

Source: DOS, NPTD


Hamidah: Im supporting my parents who are no longer working and definitely, the high cost of living would be a primary concern: Whether I, as a daughter, would be able to provide as well for them. You want your parents to be happy and to provide them with the best things that money can buy,

and also that money cant buy, like spending quality time with them. I also think we have to be practical. There is going to be a rising number of single elderly. (Maybe myself, if I do not get married!) Statistically, there is a rising trend of people who are single. I feel we cant force people to get marSingles ried or to set up famispeak: lies. Some people may pg 14 be well and happy living by themselves.

Dinnie: The other implication would be that the workforce wouldnt be in its prime because there would be fewer and more heavily taxed working adults, and a greater population of elderly who we would have to take care of. For me and my generation, we would have to work harder because there would be fewer of us to support the ageing population. Jeremy: What we may not have considered is the Governments role with respect to the elderly and our seniors. Yes, there is the logical consequence of having a smaller tax base, but it may or may not lead to a situation where the working population would have to contribute more. How people plan for their old age will have very significant consequences when it comes to my own retirement, I would have planned for it and be less likely to want to depend on children if I do have any. Would I be looking to depend on the Government for health subsidies and all that? Ideally I wouldnt depend on anyone, and I would have a nice sum of money or be engaged in something that would support my lifestyle. My sense of it is Singaporeans tend to not want to depend on others. That might actually play in our favour. Its different from what we see in the West, for example, in Canada where education and healthcare are virtually free. In that situation, yes, the tax base has to grow to support an ageing population. That, in my opin- Granddad speaks: ion may not necessarily pg 9 be the case for Singapore.

There would be fewer and more heavily taxed working adults, and a greater population of elderly ... For me and my generation, we would have to work harder ... to support the ageing population.

How people plan for their old age will have very significant consequences ... Would I be looking to depend on the Government for health subsidies and all that? Ideally I wouldnt depend on anyone.

studies in 2005 and this is testament to the fact that age is no longer a factor when it comes to training or retraining. Career switches can take place anytime, and I believe this sort of productivity and flexibility that I see in my mum is representative of the new wave of seniors. To answer your question, I think it is happening right now. Jeremy: Age discrimination is there. There are laws against that but lets look at our demographic. For the young, there is less of an idea of a hierarchy. If you look at a lot of companies these days Google, Facebook the idea of seniority is not as strong. But if we talk about people in their 50s right now, would their younger bosses be happy with the fact that they have an older worker? In a very Asian way, age makes a difference, you have to be respectful to someone whos old. There is also age discrimination in the workforce because its more expensive to retain an older worker than it is to fire him and promote someone whos younger and draws less pay. There are many companies that embody good practices but there are many out there that might not be as open to hiring someone older, because at the end of the day, business is about the issue of costs. Sim Ann: You mentioned workplace practices. Are there other things we should consider which would integrate the elderly better? Hamidah: At the end of the day, the

Singapores population in 2012

elderly want to feel valued and they need to feel valued. Thats a very real problem because looking at the statistics, the 40- to 60-year-olds right now, the bulk of them have secondary school education. That could be extrapolated to them holding jobs in the construction or service industry. I would like to see (all) jobs in Sing apore being attributed the same kind of importance. Doesnt matter if you hold a PMET job or a job in the ser vice-related industry, any job should be valued. I think that kind of thinking needs to trickle down so that people start putting value to the elderly and what they are contributing to the economy.

At current birthrates and without immigration:

come 2030

More than 1 in 4 citizens would be aged 65 and above The median age of our citizen population would be 47 years, up from 39 years in 2011 There would be only 2.1 working-age adults supporting every 1 elderly resident, down from 5.9 in 2012

Seniors in the workforce A growing proportion of residents over 65 are still working


Residents: Citizens (3.29 million) + Permanent Residents (0.53 million)

3.82 million

1.49 million

Divya: The issue has been raised, that when elderly healthcare facilities are near residential locations, people feel a bit uncomfortable. I feel these stereotypes ought to be changed in the young ... I think education should inculcate in us that we should be open-minded to all these changing demographics. Anmol: My concern is how are we going to use the elderly to better our society, instead of seeing them as a problem. I think its in the mindset. If we are more accommodating, I think it wont be as much of a problem as we make it out to be. Sim Ann: Could you give one or two examples of how we can be more accommodating or be more active in crafting meaningful roles for the elderly?

Anmol: Elderly people are more experienced. More companies are trying to use the elderly as mentors and teach the young. As long as we believe the elderly are not more of a burden but more of an asset, well still be able to progress as a nation. Sim Ann: Do you feel we are there already? Because ageing is already happening. If there are difficulties today, why do you think thats the case? Kai Min: My mum is in her mid-50s and I wouldnt consider her old by any means. Last week she made a career switch. She was always in the hospitality and entertainment industry. She went on to serve at one of the sovereign wealth funds of Singapore and now, shes back again in the industry. She pursued her post-graduate




Sim Ann: What type of jobs do you and your friends value or hope will continue to be made available? Divya: Social service is what I value the most. There are friends who feel that what gives them most money is whats valued the most. Its not about contributing, not about fulfilment, but how much they earn. That kind of mentality should change. I see it in my dad (manager of a metal-plating company): He works hard and he earns but the amount of satisfaction he gets isnt as much as my friends who are working in the
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Source: singstat

5.31 million
*Data as of june 2012. Source: Nptd

reemployment upon age 62

Nearly 8 in 10 private establishments had implemented measures to allow local employees to work past age 62, in 2011. 97 per cent of local employees retiring in 2011 were offered employment beyond 62. Most (92 per cent) agreed to stay on.

special employment credit

Employers receive credit pegged to the wages of any Singaporean employee who is above 50 and earning up to S$4,000 a month. This covers 4 in 5 older Singaporean workers.