Friday, 15 February 2013

Silver Productivity scheme receives lukewarm response

By Saifulbahri Ismail, Channel NewsAsia, 13 Feb 2013

A programme aimed at improving the productivity of older workers has had lukewarm response.

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) told Channel NewsAsia its Silver Productivity programme launched in 2011 has attracted only five companies.

The federation cited reasons such as the lack of awareness among employers and workers, as well as insufficient promotion of productivity of older workers.

Systematic Laundry already has several innovations in its work processes to help older workers be more productive.

Last year, it embarked on the Silver Productivity programme to further improve in re-designing its shop floor.

Its managing director, Chan Tai Pang, said: "The Silver Productivity programme helps our managers to understand the concepts of productivity management and identify constraints and challenges faced by the elderly workers."

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation partners the Republic Polytechnic to train operations managers and human resource personnel.

Funding for the programme comes from the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

So far, a total of S$45,000 has been disbursed and have benefited some 150 employees.

The federation's honorary secretary Dr Moh Chong Tau believes a change in mindset is needed to get companies to pay more attention and improve the efficiency of their older workers.

Dr Moh said: "They have to face the fact that the number of younger workers will be (smaller), the foreign workers will be curtailed and the only way to increase the number of workforce is how to effectively use the older generation. The government has done a good job in extending the work age. The only thing is how to effectively use this group of people."

However, co-director of the Asia Competitiveness Institute, Associate Professor Tan Khee Giap thinks there is a limit on how productive an older worker can be.

Assoc Prof Tan said: "Their ability to take stress is much less, and therefore having a job for older workers, having engaged them, I think is good enough. Let's not try too hard to try and squeeze productivity out of older people. We want the older workers to work safely and to be remunerated fairly."

The federation intends to showcase the success stories of the five companies who have participated in the Silver Productivity programme to its members.

It hopes this could motivate more companies to take part.

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