When old is gold in the workplace

All in a day’s work: A senior citizen repairing motorcycles at a workshop near Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/ The Star

Retirees back in business with more companies tapping into this talent pool

PETALING JAYA: More seniors are joining the workforce as Malaysian employers are open to hiring seniors and retirees.

According to employers, senior citizens presented a significant untapped talent pool.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said the organisation fully supports the hiring of senior citizens as long as they are healthy and able to contribute to business growth.

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“Employers have a fair share of shortage in experienced workers and this is where the seniors will be able to contribute by sharing experience and knowledge with the younger generation.

“It must also be noted that Malaysia is an ageing society with many living beyond their 70s, and we need to ensure they are taken care of and rewarded for work done,” he said when contacted.

Citing an MEF survey in October last year, Syed Hussain said 65.7% of respondent companies were aware of potential retirees in their location.

“This implies that a significant portion of the employers surveyed were cognisant of the availability of retirees as a potential labour pool.

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The awareness of retirees in the workforce suggests that these employers may be open to considering retirees as candidates for employment,” he said.

Based on survey findings, Syed Hussain said it is evident that a significant portion of companies, specifically 79%, are open to hiring retirees.

“The types of employment offered to retirees varies, with fixed-term contracts (59%), followed by permanent employment (11%) and part-time basis (9%).

“For companies that hired retirees on a part-time basis, 31% opted to pay them on an hourly basis, while 69% of companies chose to pay them on a daily basis,” he said.

Based on the survey, Syed Hussain said among the challenges employers faced in hiring retirees were health and physical limitations, higher medical costs and general differences in terms of working styles and expectations, among others.

“Survey findings also suggested that employers recognise the importance of adopting measures to overcome challenges associated with hiring retirees,” he said.

Syed Hussain added that job roles for seniors should align with their existing skills, enabling them to make the most of their experience and expertise without extensive retraining.

“Seniors often value flexibility in terms of work schedule, workload and location, allowing them to balance work with other commitments or interests.

“However, it is important to note that some roles may require tech skills, which could pose limitations for seniors who may not be as proficient in technology,” he said.

Jobstreet by Seek Malaysia managing director Vic Sithasanan said there were noticeably more senior users aged 60-99 on their platform in the first quarter of 2024 compared with 2022.

“This indicates that more seniors have been looking for job opportunities in the last two years,” he told The Star.

Vic said Malaysian employers should give a fair chance to anyone fit to work, regardless of age.

“Seniors and retirees often bring a wealth of experience and holistic perspective to the workplace, serving as reliable mentors to younger employees, facilitating skill transfer and helping in preventing knowledge gaps for niche or highly-skilled industries.

“With the projected rise in senior population, tapping into experienced talent pools can enhance a company’s productivity level and help younger talent progress in their careers,” he said.

Vic also hoped for more government support and initiatives aimed at fostering equal opportunities for work, especially in light of the rising cost of living.

“Aside from offering income tax reductions to employers hiring older workers, the government can emulate neighbouring countries by offering initiatives that provide a percentage of funding to train and upskill mature employees.

“Such programmes not only promote lifelong learning but also encourage employees to stay updated with current workforce trends and skills,” Vic said.

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