Thursday, December 16, 2004

Age Old Problem

Despite being well known as a nation that emphasise fairness and equality, Singapore still faces age discrimination when it comes to the mature-age seeking jobs.

According to a recruitment consultant, hiring companies usually specify the age requirements for shortlisting candidates, hence if any résumé received does not state the age, the agency will either follow-up with the applicant to verify the information or dispose the application from its shortlisting.

Although employers avoid the use of the word "age" in their advertisements, most companies still indicate their preference for "young and energetic" or for "candidates between 20s and early 30s", even when the job is administrative or does not require any physical ability.

The Work Development Agency and National Trade Union Congress frequently encourage mature-age citizens to be more open to being engaged in domestic related work and even though these bodies encourage people to upgrade themselves through higher education or skills training to gain employability, chances for the mature getting employed are still slim. Many who have been trained said that they still do not get interviews for the same jobs applied by their younger course mates.

According to an article from Bug Cafe by Travel Bug Media, "there is a compulsion to give the young (below 30s) a head start and a chance to be employed, by ignoring the workers who are over 40 years old. The rationale is that the young have a better optimism when starting fresh and are less likely to have debt and mortgage overhangs, unlike the 40 plus who are more prone to heavy mortgage and loan exposure, debts and household liabilibilites."
In this article, an employer of a shipping company said he would "rather train and employ a young school leaver than a slow, over 40 unemployed supervisor" because the mature-age is "burnt out, not agile, and tend to have accidents at the work place".

Unlike countries like the USA or Australia, Singapore does not have anti-discrimination legislation that outlaw ageism. With such laws, governments can end unfair treatment of workers based on age. In Australia, offenders are liable to pay damages up to AUD40,000 under the legislation released by the State Government since 1993.

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