Commentary: Navigating the new road to modern elderhood

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A conversation among three friends suggests the modern elder has a role in the workplace, says Irene Hoe.

SINGAPORE: The national conversation about keeping older people in the workforce habitually zeroes in on the accompanying gyrations in Central Provident Fund But are these numbers, driven and decided by humans, the be-all and end-all of an employment future that wiser people have long seen coming?When I started work in the 1970s, a retirement age of 55 seemed immutable and all but carved in stone. My contemporaries and I could never have imagined what’s happening now., and 65 by 2030.

Well-travelled Yeo Chwee fong, who retired almost 20 years ago, spends most of her time volunteering at a wellness centre for the elderly and tending to her garden.There is another way to look at the benefits of sustaining an age-diverse workforce. Jeanette, 40 years younger than I, and maybe 20 years younger than Clement, and more skilled in things digital than either, delivered a quickie capsule lesson on the ways of IG, that is, Instagram.

… the one thing that can never be automated or left to artificial intelligence is the human element of business. You may not be a software developer, but you are a soft skills developer – and soft skills are the ones that will matter most in the organisation of the future.Conley’s own awakening began when he was invited by AirBnB’s co-founders to help them take their start-up global, and to mentor CEO Brian Chesky.

To achieve this, those artificial age barriers so constantly and relentlessly reinforced by statistical tables, must be breached before we can reclaim and revitalise the notion of elderhood, and learn to mentor and be mentored at the same time. A more compelling reason for keeping older workers on the job may be that an ageing workforce can positively impact company performance.

 

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