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NTUC calls for employers to accord older workers equal training participation

The call is one of the key recommendations following NTUC’s year-long #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations campaign.
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By Shukry Rashid 26 Sep 2023
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Model ID: 25a3c867-e9a5-4c72-9e2f-80c0ceff9e1c Sitecore Context Id: 25a3c867-e9a5-4c72-9e2f-80c0ceff9e1c;

NTUC is calling for employers to accord equal training participation for older workers to uplift the workers’ employment prospects and companies’ competitiveness.

The call is one of the key recommendations following NTUC’s year-long #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations (#EWMC) campaign to understand concerns and aspirations about work.

NTUC made the call during a visit to Polar Puffs & Cakes Production Facility on 26 September 2023.


Equal training participation for older workers


According to an NTUC survey conducted between January and February 2022 with 1,000 respondents, 92 per cent of those aged 55 and above have said they are interested in attending training if offered the opportunity by the company.

However, 6 in 10 respondents felt they had fewer training opportunities than younger workers.

In another survey conducted between December 2022 and January 2023 with 1,000 respondents aged 20 and above, a decline in training participation rate with age is observed.

NTUC has urged companies to form Company Training Committees (CTC) to ensure equal training opportunities for older workers.

Some 1,600 CTCs have been formed, and over 100,000 workers have been trained since the programme was launched in 2019 to help companies and unions collaborate on training and transformation.

NTUC also reiterated its call made during a recent CTC Symposium. During the symposium, NTUC called for protected training time for workers to attend training and to ensure such support is also extended to older workers.

The Labour Movement further called for companies to continue redesigning age-universal jobs. Companies can utilise the full range of help and support available from NTUC’s Training & Placement Ecosystem and Government grant programmes to subsidise consultancy and implementation.

More for older workers

Other areas that surfaced during the #EWMC engagements with older workers include strengthening retirement adequacy, especially for lower-income older workers, and developing additional work areas such as micro-jobs at the local or community level.

NTUC said it believes these areas require deep and careful study and assessment.

NTUC also commended the Government on the recent announcement of the Majulah Package. It said it will continue working with tripartite partners on policy and programme enhancements to better support the older workforce in these areas in due course.

Exemplary company

During NTUC’s visit to Polar, NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Heng Chee How toured the production facility and engaged the company’s workers.

Polar is a unionised company under the Foods, Drinks And Allied Workers Union (FDAWU).

The company has formed a CTC with FDAWU, which covers its 380-strong workforce.

Polar does not have a retirement age for its workers. Some 10 per cent of its workers are above the age of 63.

Mr Heng said Polar is an example of how companies can effectively implement inclusive training programmes for older workers, leading to an engaged and high-performing workforce comprising younger and older employees.

“It also shows how unionised companies like Polar are benefiting from NTUC’s CTC initiative,” added Mr Heng.

Polar adopts an age-neutral, inclusive human resource and training policy.

Recognising that older employees may have different training requirements, the company designs and adapts its training programmes to ensure effective training outcomes.

Some of its initiatives include Mandarin translations for manuals and e-learning modules and an adjusted training pace for older workers at their workstations in the production facility.

Polar Executive Director Chan Kok Yew said: “We invest in training and development programmes that cater to the diverse needs of our workforce, especially our older employees – the programmes are designed to help all of them acquire new skills, stay current in their fields and adapt to changing job requirements.”