The Future of Employment in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand: Demographic and Labour Market Trends of Ageing Societies in the Context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are facing challenges to ensure adequate old-age income security and social protection for older persons due to demographic and labour market shifts. The current labour market outlook for older persons in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand will be challenging due to several emerging trends. In Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, current policies on older persons and digitalization are embedded in national development plans.

This paper recommends several strategies to promote active participation of older persons in the labour market, including reducing age discrimination and promoting gender and age-friendly practices in the workplace. Current interventions in expanding upskilling and reskilling programmes for older workers, particularly those with relatively low levels of education and skills are limited, both in size and scope. Widening incentives for employers, in particular towards recruitment of older workers is optimal in incentivizing employers who employ and retrain older workers. Policy adjustments on pensions and contributory systems are needed to ensure all workers, regardless of age, are covered by social protection and social insurance as early as possible, without differentiating between their employment status or nationality. Increasing the retirement age or introducing a re-employment age may encourage older persons to participate longer in the labour market. Enhancing female labour force participation is equally important, with flexible work arrangements and efficient care options to enable women to balance societal expectations or the perception that women need to shoulder disproportionate housework responsibilities. More generous parental leave policies that include paternity leave could also support female labour force participation. Finally, promoting the health of older persons in the workplace is crucial. Policies that promote healthy ageing and improve safety in the workplace by integrating age and gender concerns in workplace risk assessments would encourage better labour force participation of older workers.