Aging Population in Singapore
Grey power refers to the demographic transit in power from the young to the old. This huge demographic group was called the Baby Boomers and they are now leaving their middle age and heading into a period of retirement. As this trend continues to persist, Singapore will face a major challenge in overcoming the problems posed by an aging population. An aging population is expected to have a negative impact on Singapore’s economy, community as well as the labor force. If the labor force continues to decline relative to the overall population, this will hinder economic development.
Therefore, the Singapore government has introduced various schemes to enhance employability of the older citizens, improving the environment to enhance mobility and to promote Research and Development (R&D) that is beneficial to these elderly. Firstly, to enhance the employability of the elderly, Singapore’s government has allotted $451 million to assist the older low-wage workers in upgrading their skills so as to stay valued in their workplace (Ministry of Finance, 2010).
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Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has worked with the private sector to encourage the re-employment of the elderly as well as educating citizens on the benefits of having senior workers around in the workforce. According to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the retirement age of Singapore citizens will be raised from 62 to 65 by 2012 and eventually to 67. This is to account for the higher life expectancy and to ensure the elderly have enough savings for the future.
MOM has pointed out ten reasons to work with older workers and that include they are more flexible in their working schedules, serve as mentors for new generation workers, they behold the invaluable experiences, stronger work ethic, more reliable, adding diversity of thought, loyalty to organization, taking work more seriously, having a well-established network in hand and lastly higher retention rates.
Secondly, Singapore government has come out with various healthcare schemes and programs just to make sure the elderly remains healthy and productive in the society. The main objective of such schemes is to give focus on preventing and better managing of diseases. The ministerial committee on aging implemented the Wellness Program which aims to offer older Singaporeans with information and the opportunities to lead a healthy lifestyle and to remain socially engaged within the community (The Straits Times, 2008).
Thirdly, the Barrier-free Accessibility Scheme which is projected to complete in 2014, will enhance the mobility of the elderly citizens and whoever is facing barriers with their movement. The ongoing HDB lift upgrading programme is on target to accomplish by 2014; all eligible HDB blocks will get to enjoy full lift access to every level. As for the Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) and public bus fleet, they are also achieving the barrier-free environment. The MRT stations have been retrofitted since 2006 and are barrier-free today.
The public bus fleet will achieve its target of wheel-chair accessible by 2014 (The Straits Times, 2008). The budget which Singapore has set aside for this demographic group also includes expenditure in the R&D implementation. According to Channelnewsasia. com, Foresight Technologies has come up with mobile phones for the elderly and they will be available on the market by August 2010. These are simple “back to basics” phones with classic candy-bar design.
It does not carry impressive applications but comes with the most basic functions to call and send messages. In times of emergency, a button fixed at the back of such phones can be pressed to activate a siren. Other features include the ability to track the caller’s whereabouts if the recipients were to miss the call, keypad and display being large enough to be seen by elderly users and having a voice to read out the numbers when a call is made. In fact, many countries are experiencing problems associated with an aging population.
However, Singapore is fully prepared to overcome the population challenge by enhancing employability, strengthening personal responsibilities and molding a barrier free society for every single citizen to live in. If the present population is able to prepare well and early, the newer generation of Singaporeans will get to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling lives in a long run. With these policies in place, they can realize this grey power to enable elderly to have better lives. References: The Straits Times. 2008, Jan 15) Good progress made in preparing for ageing population.