Never Too Late: 65-Year-Old Workers Are Learning How To Code In Singapore

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While most 65-year-olds would be usually looking to ease up as they hit retirement, in Singapore workers are being encouraged to learn new skills to stay productive in the digital world.

Singapore has one of the highest life expectancies in the world at nearly 85 years. The government soon plans to raise the retirement age and businesses are investing more to upskill workers. Singtel, Singapore Telecommunications Limited, is one of these companies and it be spending $32.7 million over three years to train staff, according to Bloomberg.

Valerie Yeong-Tan has worked for 47 years at Singtel. She is an administrator in the human resources department with no prior programming knowledge, but was recently persuaded to take bot-building courses to improve her skills.

Valerie Yeong-Tan
Source: Singtel

“Learning is a lifelong process, and I want to keep my mind active,” the 65-year-old said in an interview at a new Singtel office in Singapore, where it will conduct training. “I also hope to encourage and inspire the younger generation of workers, and show them that you can learn new skills no matter how far you are in your career.”

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After attending  a four-day Bot Maker Training course and a two-day Bot Maker Hackathon, both organized by Singtel, Yeong-Tan was introduced to basic programming terminology. Thanks to her newly-acquired skills, she can now automate work processes which saves her hours every day.

Both government agencies and businesses are helping workers reskill and find jobs. Workforce Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore run a number of such programs. Last year, 431,000 Singaporeans made use of the SkillsFuture Credit -- which subsidizes government-approved training courses -- compared with 285,000 in 2017.

As for Singtel, it recently announced it will invest S$45 million ($32.7 million) over the next three years to boost its employees’ digital skills. It’s providing additional in-house training courses and programs in a variety of technology-related fields ranging from 5G capabilities to data analytics. Last year, German technology giant SAP SE partnered with government agencies and local educational institutions to offer courses in a program dubbed the SAP Skills University Singapore, targeted at mid-career professionals.


Chua Sock Koong, Singtel’s group chief executive officer said: “Work, as we know it today, is very different from 10 years ago. And 10 years from now, it will be very different from today. That is why we mustn’t stop evolving, as an employee, as a company.”

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