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65-year-old Singaporean’s two-year job search sparks discussion on retirement hardships

A report about a tenacious 65-year-old and his two-year job search in Singapore has ignited fierce online discussion over retirement challenges due to high living costs.

The interview, conducted by 8World News, had the senior sharing his countless rejections, with netizens highlighting the prevalent hurdles faced by elderly job seekers in the country’s job market.



A 65-year-old individual spent two years searching for a job in Singapore but faced continuous rejection from the job market.

In an interview with the Chinese media outlet 8World News six months ago, Mr Goh Kheng Wah (吴庚桦), an elderly person, wrapped up his timber business in China and returned to Singapore in 2021.

Despite his children having established careers and minimal financial burdens, he remained eager to continue working.

Expressing his reasons for seeking employment, he mentioned feeling “bored” and eager to remain active.

However, despite numerous job interviews, he encountered repeated rejections despite many places hiring.

Mr. Goh shared his experience: “During interviews, upon mentioning my experience in timber or flooring work, their interest seemed to dwindle.”

Although he was adept at basic computer skills like Word and Excel, he admitted his unfamiliarity with more advanced computer-related tasks.

“After each interview, I often received vague responses like ‘Alright, we’ll notify you later.’ Unfortunately, many second interviews didn’t materialize, leading to a loss of confidence.”

Manpower Minister of State stressed the crucial role of seniors in the workforce

Dr Koh Poh Khoon, Senior Minister of State for Manpower who featured in the interview, emphasized the importance of guiding job-seeking seniors based on their prior work experiences and personal aspirations.

He highlighted the need to offer structured guidance and training, both short-term and post-hiring, to assist older employees in finding suitable employment opportunities.

Dr Koh stressed the critical role of the elderly in the workforce, cautioning that if Singapore doesn’t encourage employers and employees to continue working after 65, the labour force will decline, creating challenges for employers in maintaining their operations.

“It’s imperative to equip our older employees with the necessary skills to contribute effectively to their respective companies,” he emphasized.

The report mentioned Mr Goh’s subsequent decision to seek assistance from the Centre for Seniors.

He enrolled in a program called ‘Reflections Beyond Fifty,’ tailored for individuals above 50, aimed at acquiring new knowledge and skills aligning with current market demands.

Mr Goh acknowledged the challenge of exclusively seeking work in the timber industry and recognized the need for continual self-improvement, particularly in keeping up with rapid technological advancements, notably in computer-related fields.

Netizens highlight the hardship of retiring in Singapore

The interview was ranked among the top five most-viewed news videos on 8World Stories and, after being reshared on Facebook recently, sparked a heated discussion on the ongoing challenges faced by elderly job seekers in Singapore.

While some criticized the hardship of retiring in Singapore due to the high cost of living and expenses, others highlighted the prevalent issues confronted by elderly job seekers.

These issues include discrimination in the job market and the plight of non-tech-savvy seniors forced to accept lower-wage or gig jobs such as security, storekeeping, or private hire car driving.

A netizen, seemingly residing in New Zealand and unfamiliar with this phenomenon in Singapore, inquired why elderly Singaporeans are relentlessly seeking employment even after retirement.

The netizen asked, “Why do people still strive to find work after retirement? Is it a matter of money or because they enjoy working until the very end? Does Singapore not have retirement benefits like the weekly pensions in Australia and New Zealand?”

Other netizens responded, stating, ‘No job equals no income equals no dignified means of living. This is the situation for the majority of Singaporeans.’

A comment highlighted the necessity for hard work in Singapore, while one netizen acknowledged the difficulty of finding employment as they grow older.

While one comment argued that there is the Central Provident Fund (CPF) that can serve as an elderly retirement fund, others replied that not everyone saves a substantial amount in the CPF.

“One has to wait until the age of 65 to start receiving around a thousand dollars or even less as retirement funds,” the netizen replied.

Call for alignment of skill training with evolving market demands

While admiring the uncle’s persistent efforts to find a job, a netizen highlighted the “cruel reality” in Singapore.

She mentioned that by the time one completes further education or training, their skills might become obsolete, failing to keep up with the rapidly changing demands of society.

Consequently, she urged the government to revamp skill training programs, ensuring they align with current market demands and developments to remain relevant and useful for individuals seeking employment.

Career uncertainty looms for aging employees

Some discussions highlighted the challenges faced by individuals even at the age of 50 when seeking employment.

A comment pointed out that what’s even more concerning is that many Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians (PMETs) start to feel uncertain about their career paths when they reach their forties.

Nearly 70% of elderly workers in Singapore earn less than S$2,500

Singapore is rapidly transitioning toward an aged society. Every six individuals will be over 65 years old.

By 2030, every four Singaporeans will be over 65.

During a response in February to parliamentary questions by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng revealed concerning figures: Close to seven out of 10 working elderly in Singapore earn less than S$2,500.

Mr Leong asked the minister about the number of Singaporeans above 65 years old still working along with their salaries and industries.

A total of 207,300 Singapore residents aged 65 and above were employed in 2022 – an employment rate of 31 per cent.

“This is high compared to OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, and is probably the result of the high life expectancy of Singaporeans,” he added.

Of these, 142,400 residents or 68.7 per cent earned a gross monthly income of less than S$2,500 excluding employers’ Central Provident Fund contributions.

Among this group, 81,900 or 57.5 per cent of them were working full-time.

About 27,000 elderly residents earned between S$2,500 and S$3,000 while 37,800 were paid at least S$4,000.

Dr Tan highlighted that a third of employed residents aged 65 and above were working part-time.

Dr Tan also said the top five industries employing the most resident workers aged 65 and above in 2022 were wholesale and retail trade, administrative and support services, transportation and storage, accommodation and food services as well as manufacturing.

Elderly Singaporeans forced to work for survival

In April this year, another netizen took to Facebook to express his shock upon discovering another 86-year-old elderly person still working as a cleaner.

More than 20 years have passed since 1999 and many elderly Singaporeans continue to struggle everyday working to survive.

According to a Reuters’ report in 2019, many elderly Singaporeans look for jobs after retirement because the Singapore’s CPF retirement saving scheme does not provide enough money for them to survive.

“If I don’t work, where will my income come from?” said 71 year-old Mdm Mary Lim, one of many elderly cleaners earning a meager wage clearing up to 400 plates a day at a foodstall in Singapore’s Chinatown.

“If I stop my work, how will I survive?”

The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) at the National University of Singapore published a survey finding in Sept 2023 that an older Singaporean above 65 years old would need S$1,492 to meet his or her basic needs.

For an elderly couple aged 65 and above, the figure rises to S$2,551, while those aged between 55 and 64 years require S$1,857. The increase amounts to a rise of 4%–5% between 2020 and 2022 for the three indicative household types.

The report unveils figures detailing the necessary income households require to maintain a basic standard of living, using the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) method.

The 2023 MIS report also proposed three significant income reforms: introducing a universal wage floor, revising the CPF model to better serve the elderly, and pegging assistance amounts to current inflation rates.

However, the Singaporean government, in a statement, contested the findings by suggesting that they “might not accurately reflect basic needs”. Instead, the findings should be seen as “what individuals would like to have.”


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I believed that 65 year old local citizen has tried his best to secure employment in this country but unfortunately he is unable to secure employment but having to live in 1 of the most expensive countries, he has no choice but to persevere on. In the first place, he should have moved to other country where seeking employment is not a hard thing

These had been bottling up for years and I had to voice it out now, hope it is not to late. So far, whenever some jobless locals cannot find suitable jobs, pap used their propaganda media to brainwash that training is the way to go. They even offered $500 to $1500 skills future credit giving the impression that after training the jobless problem will be solved. I assured you the above is one BIG ASS BULLSHIT. Anyone who worked their way up will know it take years for a person to climb the corporate ladder and even during work companies… Read more »

The problem with these people is that they refuse to upgrade themselves. Technology keeps changing and they are still stuck in the 80s. They can only blame themselves. They deserve to be poor. Go around and collect cardboard boxes while they still can. I got no sympathies for these losers. At least foreigners are bringing new knowledge and skills to Singapore. If I were the 65 year old guy, I would have go jump into a MRT track to kill myself.

Eh. Goodness. Shit. Nonsenses.
I always read about targeted assistance? Calibrated schemes?
How about everyone matters?
Then what about INCLUSIVENESS?


Rubbish! That’s not true lah, who says there are no jobs?

There are plenty of jobs begging and waiting for seniors to take up.

The problem is they are not willing to take them on.

Jobs such as cleaners, security guards, and others that pay under $2k pm are abundant.

It is no wonder they say that Sinkies are choosy.



Community Watchgroups paying good money for harrassment jobs against citizens who are not politically aligned with the elites and the requirements are willing to downgrade oneself to a life without moral and parasitic.

I went for a night kitchen cleaner job, daily pay. I am not shy about work or the job, as long as I enjoy it.
What, I cannot believe is that, the foreign workers are So Afraid, that a Singaporean, came for this job.
Imagine other vocations.
I understand their, concern, it’s their rice bowl.
What about Singaporeans?
LW has no money to give as well.

Let’s be frank, most of you all are screwed in Singapore.
All Hail, the Natural Aristocracy.

Plenty of jobs waiting, F&B cashiers, collecting carton boxes, mc Donald cashiers, cleaners, sweepers, grab drivers, food delivery? etc etc tsk tsk tsk.

Who did he votes? $million dollars pineapple? tsk tsk tsk

70% Pineapple Lovers:
1) Increase GST
2) Increase PUB utilities
3) Increase COE, ERP
4) Increase Food Prices
5) Increase Housing prices
6) Increase Cost of Living
7) Increase Transport fares
8) Increase Hospital and Medical costs
9) Increase Foreigners intake, increase job losses
10) Increase Prices on Chicken, Eat Fish
11) Increase in Ageing population, collect carton boxes, a good form of
We need solutions not price increase!!!! What do you think?

I doubt if he can get a job in his preferred industry. More like MacDonald’s waiting to sign him up. For me, I would wait for LW to roll out the budget come Feb 2024. The only way to see our seniors really retiring and taking it easy late in life is if the G will do something concrete rather than the piecemeal $200 here, another $150 there. As a start, he (LW) should think of introducing a living wage. Forget the Silver Support and almalgamate all the aid schemes to provide a living wage. Start with $1492, this being… Read more »

I was interviewed but the interviewer made questions so difficult for me.
Every Singaporean can learn on job and contribute.
However, if interviewers tried to find fault, you can forget about working!
If all foreign talents so great, SG will have tons of SG MNC across the world.
Stop fooling Sgreans, PAP.
Even applying for HDB, immigrants can apply for BIG 5 room flats while local
single who want to have bigger space was asked to LIVE in 2 ROOM flat.
If you believe there is no misuse of power, ask why Puthuchear2 was a Minister!

This article spells it that it government doesn’t know what they are doing. They are on a witch hunt for desirable skills based on what companies tell them.

But these companies are using ridiculous skills requirement as an excuses not to hire locals. While it is uncertain if the foreigners they hire eventually meets those skills requirement but the companies got to hire those they desire with blessing from MOM.

This leave our government constantly asking locals to go for training without achieving any real results.

65 yr old still searching for job back in their own country, is it?😆😆😆😆😆😆😆😆😆
He missed the hint completely cos many employers were think he should be either searching for a hospice, retirement home or a funeral parlour to make preparation!😆😆😆😆

Older people, 55 yrs and above, are not quick enough in fast paced world, including fast food businesses. Whatever the purpose of requiring staff, the work processes need to be sorted out. 90% of businesses do not have work flow in administrative functions. They exist only on the factory floor. Once the work flow is worked out only then can the search for an employee begin. Sadly, running a business means profit+profit+profit, cost+cost+costs. Business owners are unable to intergrate the 2 parts. Human Resource people only know this while taking diplomas or degrees, never practiced in real world. In Singapore,… Read more »

The problem with “up-skill classes” or “skills-training” is that these are provided by the government or by approved organisations. The government has zero clue about the actual needs of the private sector, this is true for every country in the world. What the government can teach you was relevant 5 years ago. What the ruling government should do is encourage companies to hire inexperienced workers and provide training (Through subsidies or other incentives). But of course, doing so would scare large MNCs from setting up shop in Singapore and bringing their own experienced workers from abroad. Through incompetent policies, the… Read more »

But he could be one of the 86%🤭

Again, what’s the POINT of “lifelong learning” if it doesn’t lead to desired outcomes? Suggest he contact Halimau about this for some job search tips. She landed a plum job as chancellor (ie: do nothing but be a figurehead and get paid handsomely) of SUSS without even having to apply for it.

This part doesn’t make sense:
“Singapore is rapidly transitioning toward an aged society. Every six individuals will be over 65 years old.
By 2030, every four Singaporeans will be over 65.”