The Employment of Senior Citizens in Singapore
Authors: Brian Peacock, Chui Yoon Ping, Samuel Low, Phang Chun Kai, Loh Sok Khim
Abstract: The employment of senior citizens is a global challenge of major proportions, and increasing apace. From the systems ergonomics perspective these challenges can be categorized and measured from physical, cognitive, social, affective, environmental or economic viewpoints. A series of studies is underway at SIM University, Singapore to evaluate the characteristics, capabilities, limitations and aspirations of senior citizens aged 55 – 75 with regard to their employment, and compare these with a cohort of younger counterparts. The first phase of this project measured physical capabilities including, size and shape, strength, speed, stamina, and motor skills. The results of these studies indicated that, whereas these variables showed some expected associations with age, they also showed very large individual differences, presumably related to disease, disuse, disinterest, inheritance and life history. The second phase of the study investigated the perceptions, using a Kano approach (must have, more the better and excitement categories), of older people with regard to their jobs on dimensions such as physical demands, technology demands, economics, relationships (with management, co workers and customers) and job environment. As predicted economic and relationship issues dominated the results, followed by physical and technology demands. The third phase was an objective approach to the physical and operational job demands using a “Job Physical Activity Sampling” approach. This analysis indicated widely varying sedentary and dynamic job demands. Finally guidelines are presented with regard to employment of elderly people to assure health, safety and satisfaction. These guidelines are categorized using a consensus based demand – strain model that addresses spatial, manipulation, environmental, manual materials handling and operational factors. Participants were also surveyed regarding their perceived fitness for work. The conclusion of the study was that age per se is not the main challenge; rather it is the correlates of age, such as disease, that stand in the way of gainful employment.
Keywords: Aging, Physical capabilities, Fitness for work, Job design
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