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SINGAPORE — In the current uncertain economic climate, where nary a week goes by without news of yet another company laying off staff, it can be worrying for jobseekers already finding it tough to land an offer.

According to Ministry of Manpower data for the third quarter of last year, nearly 55 per cent of Singapore residents made redundant in the previous quarter were able to find a new job within six months. This means that 45 per cent take longer than six months to land a new job. 

If it is difficult for the average jobseeker to land a job, much less for working mothers seeking flexible working arrangements, senior citizens competing with younger men and women who are also looking for work, or young adults with zero working experience.

While there are many major online hiring portals such as jobsDB and LinkedIn that have helped many find their dream jobs, for jobseekers with specific requirements, finding the right job can be difficult.

Over the past couple of years, though, a new breed of employment search portals have emerged to provide more customised platforms for senior citizens, mothers and other niche groups of workers.

FOR SENIORS

Championing the employment of mature jobseekers is Silver Spring, which helps professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) between the ages of 40 and 70 consider re-career options or resume their careers. The social enterprise was founded by Ms Helen Lim, 69, who set up the jobs portal segment in 2012.

“In more recent years there has been better opportunities for the more mature jobseekers....aligned with various measures the government has taken to encourage the employment of seniors. Silver Spring job portal started mainly to invite mature PME jobseekers (those restructured out of organisations) to see how we can help them get ready for their next career,” Ms Lim said.

Candidates on their portals generally have a diploma as a minimum qualification, while many have degrees and post graduate qualifications. Some have also had experience working in multi-national corporations.

“There is also a unique group of school-leavers in their mid-50s onwards who have grown well in their organisations to managerial levels. This group, when retrenched, faces more challenges getting another corporate job with no paper qualification to support them,” Ms Lim said.

The website, which now has close to 2,000 candidates, offers full-time, part-time and contract positions across a wide range of roles including, managerial, senior accountants, security supervisors, senior executives and senior IT business analysts.

“So far, we are managing well with monthly salaries in the S$5,000 to over S$10,000 range on full-time basis. For admin and short-term contracts, we also manage job roles with salaries in the S$2,000 to S$3,000 range,” Ms Lim said.

It is still a work in progress to get more employers to consider mature jobseekers to fill their vacancies, Ms Lim noted. “We hope to co-create with more employers to give space and opportunity to have a more diverse workplace, (with) some mature job seekers to stabilise the workplace, contribute effectively and mentor younger colleagues with deeper problem solving skills.”

The current organisations that contact Silver Spring for candidates are growing small medium enterprises (SMEs), Ms Lim said, as SMEs “see the value in having some mature silver talents in their workplace.”

FOR MOTHERS

For working moms, Mums@Work strives to help women find a balance between being a mother and being part of the workforce. It was set up by Mrs Sher-Li Torrey, 38, who had found it difficult to find a job offering the kind of flexibility she needed after she became a mother.

The site now has close to 26,500 strong members, with about 93 per cent comprised of Singaporeans/Permanent Residents.

“Women (in particular mothers) tend to be the caregivers in families. For this reason, their desire to have work-family balance would be greater than some other groups. Mums@Work is a portal specifically for mothers who want work-family balance. Only flexible work arrangements are accepted (part-time, contractual, freelance, project basis, work from home, flexible hours),” said Mrs Torrey.

The website offers job listings ranging from finance to admin, marketing, operational, and legal. All positions require a minimum criteria of diploma qualifications.

INTERNSHIPS

Meanwhile, Glints is a site that caters solely to young adults looking for internships. Founded in 2013 by three youths who started the site as a side project, the portal “accidentally” grew into a business because of demand from the market.

The portal offers internships and entry-level to junior positions for all job categories. The website has a 75 per cent success rate in matching the right candidates to companies in four weeks. In the past 12 months, its user base has grown 7.5 times.

The website recently announced a partnership with Ngee Ann Polytechnic, a move which will allow the 16,000 students in the polytechnic to gain access to their site, whilst allowing local companies easier access to a greater pool of talent.

“We realised that the real problem that young people faced is not that they cannot find internships and jobs, but that they don’t really know what career paths they want to take, and what skills sets they require,” said Mr Oswald Yeo, co-founder and CEO of Glints. The portal, hence, serves to help young people explore different career paths and guide them to acquire industry-relevant skills. “Applicants benefit from the live chat consultations on the platform for career guidance and special recommendation to good opportunities,” Mr Yeo added.

TEMPORARY WORK

Over at Singapore Part Time Jobs, the platform provide jobs for those seeking ad-hoc offers. Job applicants range from the age of 16 to retirees.

Founder Mr Gabriel Dipankar Subba, 43, created the site after the birth of his daughter. He wanted to find a temporary job that would allow him to spend more time with his child. He felt that it was “cumbersome” to look through mainstream portals as they catered more for full-time work.

“As my background was in IT, I decided to put together a site and list part-time jobs from various sources. The site quickly became popular.”

Currently, the web portal has about 54,000 jobseekers in the database, a bulk of which comes from the company’s Facebook page. The jobs available include administrative, customer service, food and beverage to retail
and sales.

“The total number of companies we have served over the years is approximately 500. They are mostly small companies, but we have also served well-known organisations and start-ups like Killiney Kopitiam, The American Club, Uber, Kumon, Mind Stretcher, Sing Gas, Suntec, Smoothie King, Madame Tussauds to name a few,” Mr Subba added.

“Since our ratio of job seekers to employers is high, the success rate has been very good. The employers always receive a considerable number of applicants,” Mr Subba said. “Mainstream portals are good for full-time jobs but we do a great job helping employers source part timers.”

 

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I wonder where and how Mr Simon Owen Khoo Kim San obtained the information for his letter ("Difficulties in hiring older workers"; Oct 23).

Mr Khoo's arguments seem based on presumption, without any solid evidence or statistics to substantiate his claims.

It is wrong to jump to the conclusion that many employers are reluctant to hire older workers.

The 2013 survey report by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices on the value of mature workers to organisations found that the attitudes of employers towards mature workers are overwhelming positive: 98 per cent of them highly value their knowledge and skills, and 71 per cent disagree that mature workers cost organisations more money.

In terms of the value of age to organisations, 96 per cent agree that mature workers bring many benefits with greater experience; 86 per cent cite higher loyalty and commitment; and 84 per cent agree that they have a strong work ethic.

Seventy-five per cent of the organisations see benefits from the skills and competencies of mature workers, including better mentoring, leading and coaching, while 74 per cent said they have better knowledge of the business and ways of doing things.

The survey found no evidence for some of the negative stereotypes that are associated with age nor of mature employees costing organisations more money, debunking the myth that older workers are more expensive.

On the contrary, it found that the vast majority of employers - 98 per cent - highly value the knowledge and skills of mature workers. Only 38 per cent find managing the career expectations of mature employees challenging to their organisations. In addition, 81 per cent of firms re-employ mature workers in the same job for the same salary.

With this analytical data available, I wonder how Mr Khoo came to his conclusions.

As there are fewer younger workers entering the workforce, there is an increasing need to retain older workers for longer in the company.

Older workers represent a valuable resource that we cannot afford to waste. It is thus vital to motivate them to continue working, and for employers to want to hire them and see that age is just a number.

Instead of stereotyping older workers, we should instead try to find out what the challenges are for them and address the issues that inhibit their engagement in the workforce.

 

Francis Cheng

 

 

 

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OLDER people have a positive view of working after retirement and see lifelong learning as a way to better manage daily life and keep up with the times. But the majority prefer to enjoy a slower pace of life after decades of hard work.

Other barriers such as age discrimination and a lack of suitable jobs may also hold them back, a recent study commissioned by the government- funded Council for Third Age found. A report on the survey, which looked at perceptions and attitudes of 2,006 Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 50 to 74, was released on Wednesday by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

Continuing to work after retirement is viewed positively by seniors, with nine in 10 seeing it as a way to stay financially independent, socially connected and have a sense of self-worth.

The need for cash is a large driver for post-retirement work, said labour economist Hui Weng Tat from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, as only around a quarter of active Central Provident Fund members turning 55 can meet the Minimum Sum fully without pledging property. Just over half the survey respondents rated their current (54 per cent) and future (52 per cent) financial adequacy as "good/very good/excellent". The rest gave a "poor/below average/ average" rating.

But more seniors should be able to work, said Prof Hui. "The labour shortage means older workers are facing better job prospects."

At the same time, many older workers may want a break.

Over 63 per cent of the respondents were deterred from working as they want a slower pace of life.

Part-time shop assistant John Koh, 70, said he needs income to cover living expenses, but works only two days a week. "On other days, I can do some learning, take care of my grandson and take my wife out," he said.

But only a third intend to take up a formal course to retrain themselves. The majority look for informal settings, such as being taught or mentored by a fellow senior. Some are Internet savvy, with 37 per cent intending to learn through an online course.

IPS senior research fellow Mathew Mathews and National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan wrote in their report on the survey that there should different learning options for seniors.

"We should not merely imprint the model used for teaching young people on older persons since their motivations for learning differ substantially."

Former draughtsman Margaret Lee, 60, retired five years ago as her job was too stressful and her four children had grown up. She has since been attending classes on technology, social media and dancing with her husband, retired engineering supervisor Thomas Chong, 62. She hopes to pick up quilting and said: "I can make a blanket for grandchildren in the future."

Taken from: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/working-after-retirement-plus-most-seniors#sthash.kHd1JCUl.dpuf

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Channel 5

12 February 2015 (Thursday) at 9:30 pm

Common Cents: Episode 8

- Financial Planning: The Final Stretch 

The video clip is about:-

56-year-old Jonas Tan is in the final stretch of his earning potential. But poor health has hit his family and his savings may not be enough. Undaunted, he finds out what he needs to do to take care of his family and still enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

David Wee sharing on "how one can remain working" in the program Channel News Asia's program, Common Cents - Financial Planning: The Final Stretch (Episode 8)

 

David highlighted on the following useful keypoints:-

 

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Silver Spring consultants sharing insights on the aspirations and emotions of mature PMEs

Do mature PMEs in Singapore have unique characteristics?  To better understand this so that programs and policies can be tailored more effectively, Silver Spring collaborated with several government agencies in a workshop in September to develop persona profiles that represent PMEs in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Areas of discussion included motivations for seeking employment, family situation and challenges. 

 

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Silver Spring’s Founder and CEO, Mrs Helen Lim (right) shares some success stories of employment of mature PMEs with President Tony Tan

Silver Spring was one of 15 social enterprises invited to share about its mission and work at the a President’s Challenge networking event on 3 Oct. Our consultants had the opportunity to network with some of the 100 business corporations that participated in the discussions on corporate-social enterprises partnerships.

The guest-of-honour, President Tony Tan, said that in 2012, he started the President's Challenge Social Enterprise Award to recognise social enterprises that made impactful contributions to our society. Through the award, the President's Challenge aims to inspire more individuals, particularly our youths, to develop business ventures that also serve social causes. 

 

 

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TAN CHIN HWEE
From Regional Financial Controller to Business Advisor for Fast-Growing Companies

Few Singaporean professionals have had the opportunities and exposure that Tan Chin Hwee has had. In the span of a 36-year career in the manufacturing and aerospace industries, this senior finance executive has worked with Fortune 100 companies, such as General Electric and Honeywell and has managed their financial operations across the Asia Pacific with turnovers of over US$1billion.

Fresh out of university at age 24, Chin Hwee’s joined General Electric Singapore as a cost specialist. Five years later, he was transferred to General Electric’s Aviation division where he performed outstandingly and became the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the aviation plant at the relatively young age of 31. However, the work was strenuous. “Those were the days before computerization really took off. We had a very lean finance department to run a US$200 million business”, said Chin Hwee. The shortage of resources forced Chin Hwee to work smart and continually find novel ways, such as Six Sigma solutions, to increase productivity, reduce costs and generate cash for the business. Over the years, he became well versed with every aspect of the business, from manufacturing to servicing, regulatory requirements and human resources.

Although headhunters regularly knocked on his door, Chin Hwee chose to stay with General Electric for a good 23 years before further developing his career at another company. Even then, it was only because his former boss and mentor, who was then with Honeywell, asked him to go over to help. Chin Hwee was appointed CFO of the operations in Singapore where he quickly achieved productivity gains by streamlining the finance operations. At 49, Chin Hwee was promoted to become Honeywell’s Regional Financial Controller for the Asia Pacific covering 15 plants and more than 60 finance staff in China, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.

Facing a career and life crossroad 
When he turned 60 , Chin Hwee was asked if he would consider moving to Shanghai to continue with his regional financial control responsibilities. Although he was grateful that the company continued to value his contributions, Chin Hwee did not want to uproot to another country. However, as his company was moving most of its regional operations out of Singapore, there was no alternative role for him. “This became a major turning point in my career as well as my life,” he shared. “I had worked for almost 40 years and that was what I knew. I had learnt so much in business finance all these years and I felt that I had a lot of experience to share and to help others in their businesses. Chin Hwee also had to deal with the prospect that he would go from a healthy regular salary to no income. “Even though I had built up a nest egg for retirement, I was not prepared to dip into it yet. I still wanted to be productive and draw an income”.

The idea of retiring was quickly discarded. Instead, Chin Hwee started making preparations even before he left Honeywell. He signed up for courses at the Singapore Institute of Directors to learn about how to be an independent member of a board of directors. He networked with executives he met at his courses to understand what kind of financial advisory services small and medium enterprise companies were in need of. A friend also introduced him to Silver Spring.

Advisor to younger business owners 
After leaving his company, Chin Hwee found it difficult to secure an independent directorship appointment, which he had hoped for. Instead of feeling despondent, he took up an offer that Silver Spring identified for him, to work part-time as the CFO for a start-up technology company and consultancy. Two months into the role, he had made such a good impression on the company that word spread. Silver Spring also put Chin Hwee in touch with another SME that needed finance consultancy work and he clinched a project to be their business advisor in transforming their finance system.

Today, at 61, Chin Hwee, works 3 to 4 days a week and spends the rest of his time with his family and hobbies. “This is an ideal arrangement for me”, he explains. “Having worked with big companies all my life, I am enjoying the refreshing change of flexible hours and working with smaller businesses in an advisory capacity. It is very fulfilling to be able to use what I have picked up in my nearly 40-year career to help these start-ups avoid unnecessary mistakes and also achieve more by working smart. At the same time, I am constantly updating myself in the finance industry”. His encouragement to mature PMEs is to keep their craft relevant by continually learning and be willing to try working in environments that may be different from what they have been used to.

 “I had not realized that there are different opportunities for me to continue working until Silver Spring introduced me to these businesses. When others see that you can add value, they will respond positively”, Chin Hwee concludes.

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Silver Spring was among the key participants at this year’s Age Management Seminar organised by the Workforce Development Authority. Silver Spring’s Founder and CEO, Mrs Helen Lim, who delivered the keynote address, spoke about creating effectiveness at the workplace. She highlighted that a key ingredient to achieving this was the ability of employers to understand the reality and dynamics of having a multi-generational workforce in their companies. 

Mrs Lim said that some companies today already have up to five generations of employees working together. These five generations comprise the Traditionalists (age 68 and above), the Baby Boomers (age 50 to 68), the Gen Xs (age 38 to 49), the Gen Ys (age 20 to 37) and the Gen Zs (age 19 and below). She pointed out that in order to be effective at the workplace as well as to create an effective workplace, having a strong Age Quotient would be a necessity, that is an  individual’s or employer’s willingness, capacity and strategy to understand age attributes and differences of each generation as a means of bridging communication and collaboration gaps.

Over 300 participants attended the annual Age Management Seminar in June.

 

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Guest-of-Honour, Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor met with Silver Spring’s Founder and CEO, Mrs Helen Lim, and Managing Director, Mr David Wee
 
Mrs Helen Lim was both keynote speaker and panel at the Age Management Seminar
 
Silver Spring team members met with employers to understand their recruitment needs
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Silver Spring was the only private enterprise to focus on employment of experienced workers for active ageing at the 50plus EXPO in March 2014.

Hosted by Council for Third Age (C3A), 50plus EXPO is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition for baby boomers and seniors from age 45 and above.

From the scores of people who visited Silver Spring’s booth, it was clear that many baby boomers and seniors see employment as an essential element to happy and healthy ageing.

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Left to right: Mr Heng Chee How, Senior Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office and Chairman, Active Ageing & Employability Sub-Committee, Silver Spring’s Founding Partner and CEO, Mrs Helen Lim, Managing Director, Mr David Wee and Consultant, Ms Leanne Yeow

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The InnoAge Forum presented a cross section of initiatives that have successfully tackled the issues of an ageing society and tapped into the potential of the silver generation. The Forum featured a keynote from Andreas Heinecke, the founder of the Dialogue Social Enterprise GmbH, followed by a panel discussion by industry veterans like Calvin Chu, Helen Lim and Dr Ng Wai Chong!
Read more: 

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BRP Job Hub participates in jointly promoting table tennis tournament in Hougang Mall on 30 & 31 August 2013. The event allows our talented children training in Hougang to display and pitch their skills for public viewing.

Silver Spring volunteered our team of consultants too at the same time promote our recruitment drive.

 

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 SINGAPORE — Taking stock of yourself — that is the first step for seniors looking to re-enter the job market, said Ms Helen Lim, Managing Director and founder of Silver Spring.

 

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Another major milestone for Silver Spring in its mission!

20 July 2013 saw the launch of the BRP Job Hub, an initiative by NE CDC - supported by Punggol Community Club and operated by Silver Spring.

With the extension of the recruitment services to the heartland, the social mission of re-deploying our Singaporeans and permanent residents to the workforce is not only enhanced, but has becomes significant and impactful to the community.

The interns, volunteers and the core Silver Spring staff, all had a tiring, but fulfilling and enjoyable day to promote the additional avenues for finding jobs for the members of the community.

The BRP Job Hub operates from Mon - Fri, 10am to 6pm (except Public Holidays) 

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You can now watch the full episode again on the web.

http://www1.channelnewsasia.com/socialinc/?page_id=119

The team

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