Ageism in the workplace: Does it exist?

mature intern

Recently, I watched a movie, The Intern, on Netflix. Prior to watching the film, I did not know that the intern in this movie was a 70-year-old-man. I clicked on the movie simply because I saw that Anne Hathaway was in the cast. She’s great, isn’t she?

I was slightly surprised. But still interested at the premise of the movie which featured a mature employee and continued watching.

The gist of the movie:

Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower, realises that he is not cut out for retirement. He applies to become a senior intern at an online fashion site, About The Fit. His boss, Jules Ostin (played by Anne Hathaway), was initially a sceptic and did not see how this “very senior intern” could help her fast paced and “very millennial” fashion business.

mature intern

Of course, she was proven wrong as Ben slowly won her over with his warm personality and wealth of experience. Initially she did not delegate any important tasks to Ben as she saw him as someone there just to pass his time. But she soon learnt that she was missing out on the wisdom that Ben had to offer.

Like it was portrayed in the movie, many of us may find ourselves to be like Jules initially, underestimating what mature employees can contribute to the workforce. However, we should not forget that these mature employees can contribute significantly to the workforce with their experience and skills. Like how Ben became a “mentor and confidante” of Jules, these mature employees can guide us along our careers.

Retirement and re-employment age have been increased

Given what they can contribute to the workplace, it is great news that the Retirement and Re-Employment Bill 2021 was introduced in Parliament recently. These Bills support mature employees who wish to work longer. The Bills will see the retirement age and re-employment age increase to 65 and 70 respectively.

Labour MP Patrick Tay shared in a Facebook post that the Retirement Age (RA) and Re-Employment Age (REA) were 62 and 67 respectively. In 2019, the Government accepted the recommendations of the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers to raise the RA and REA to 65 and 70 respectively by 2030. This would support older workers to continue working for longer if they wished to do so, improving their retirement adequacy.

Changing our mindset towards mature employees

mature employees

The Bills are a first step in enabling mature employees who wish to continue working to do so. However, the support of employers and our mindsets as colleagues are important too. To enable mature employees to thrive in the workplace, let’s be open minded and welcome what they have to offer!

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