Chiu is the analysis of discriminatory attitudes

Chiu et al. (2001) usedquantitative and qualitative questionnaire to compared age stereotypes among567 (aged 23 to 48) respondents in UK and Hong Kong in how stereotypes relateto discriminatory attitudes at work towards older adults. Stereotypical beliefswere found to affect respondent’s attitudes towards training, promotion andretention of older workers. The findings also suggested that anti-age discriminationpolicies in respondents’ organisation had positive impact on beliefs about the adaptabilityof older workers and possibly also on attitudes towards training them.

Onelimitation is the analysis of discriminatory attitudes using single-itemmeasure, which increases the likelihood of measurement error. Future researchneeds to use reliable multi item measures of discriminatory attitudes.  McVittie (2001) studied the practice ofage discrimination of older workers by using qualitative method of discourseanalysis to analyse data collected from interviews with employers and olderjobseekers and written equal policies of employers. Although employers claimedto be fair in employment opportunities, the interviews revealed that agediscrimination persists, not only cognitive biases of employers, but throughdiscriminatory social practices and every interaction that are consistent withprevious research, despite measuresof diversity and equal opportunities in employment being promoted by the UKGovernment to address age discrimination in the workplace.  In addition, Loretto, Duncanand White (2000) conducted a survey of 460 Business students (age 17 to 29years) concerning age and employment, and a majority of respondents favouredthe introduction of legislative protection against age discrimination regardlessof age. A significant proportion of the respondents who had past or currentemployment experience reported to have been victims of age discrimination in employment,in terms of negative attitudes, low wages and less responsibility in terms of jobdeployment towards them.

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Those who have faced ageism were more supportive of aninclusive approach to tackling ageism in employment. In Singapore, Shantakumar’sstudy (1999) used secondary analysis and found that most of the elderly did notseek employment and hence there was a low proportion of older workers inemployment. Amongst the employed, 51% had no education, 15% had secondaryeducation. 84% had continued working after retirement. Older workers would seekretirement employment if they possessed relevant qualifications, but issues ofsocial security such as high living and medical costs deplete their CPFsavings, and the elderly cannot afford to exit labour force, but to seek forreemployment, but most were however offered low paying jobs. He argued that thegovernment must entice elderly to re-enter the workforce to combat ageingpopulation e.g. extending retirement age, retraining of older workers, and theempowerment of older workers to fight ageism through legislation.

Walker (1999) usedcase studies to observe and emphasised on good practices within organisations andessential factors that lead to successful policies to counteract ageism in theworkforce. He highlighted that combating age barriers in job recruitment andtraining, introduction of good practices into organizations e.g. supportive HRenvironment, flexible and careful implementation of practices that enables openand constant communication, provides education and consciousness amongstmanagers about attitudes and beliefs about the elderly. However, initiatives mustbe careful not to target elderly which might lead to stigmatisation. Holisticapproach designed to prevent occurrence of age discrimination, unemployment andage management problems.

This benefits organisations, not just the olderworkers, especially when facing aging population. Lee (1999) highlightsfindings using secondary analysis and argued that the legislation of employmentpractices reflects the government’s view of the elderly as less productive,dependent, and a financial burden which legitimizes the marginalization of theelderly in Singapore. By raising the retirement age, the government compensateemployers hiring older workers by permitting older workers to be given lowerwages, fewer fringe benefits, and shorter wage scales, and to make reduced CPFcontributions.

The findings found that there were implications whichdiscourages elderly in participating in the labour force as there was a decreaseof elderly working, and most who were working were in low-paying and only asmall percentage had higher skilled jobs. Lyon and Pollard(1997) conducted a survey in the UK with 221 MBA (Master of BusinessAdministration) students using closed questionnaire and found that the studentsgenerally held less favourable perceptions of older workers, ascribing less-desirableattitudes and behaviours to older workers. The survey highlighted that majorityof the respondents agreed that the acceptance of new technology and adaption tochange were a general “weak point” of older employees. The authors argued thatlegislation is needed to break discriminatory practices and treatment.  Yaw (1996) evaluatedthe Singaporean government’s attempt to tackle ageism in the workplace through secondaryanalysis.

Although the government urged to raise retirement age voluntarily,the response was poor. It is found that employers resisted the extension of theretirement age due to the negative perceptions and stereotypes of olderworkers. Employment and retainment of the older workers are seen as expensive,unsuited for strenuous jobs and less productive. Thus, the government passedthe Retirement Age Act in 1993 to tackle age discrimination in employment. Yaw(1996) proposed that a broader legislation may be required in the future as thepolicy was directed at unreasonable or unfair discharge of employees basedsolely on age.

There is no protection for older workers in terms of recruitment,promotion, training and compensation. Additionally, Tan’sarticle (1996) also reviewed the current issues of age discrimination in the workforcein Singapore with secondary analysis. It is found that employers perceive olderworkers as less productive and more expensive unless the wage system can bemodified so that their business can remain cost-effective when compared to youngercompetitors. They felt that older workers are paid beyond their job’s worth,but few are willing to take a pay cut. With the influx of migrant workers,employers are more willing to hire foreign labour as they are cost-effectiveand efficient.

He urged the need for older workers to be retrained to upgradetheir skills are solutions to enhance their employability.  Furthermore, Teo (1994)assessed the strengths and weaknesses of national policy on elderly in terms ofemployment using secondary analysis. Although the introduction of flexi-workand policies such as The Skills Development Fund retrains staff to help olderworkers keep up with technology, there is a notion that older workers are lessdexterous and flexible in the workforce. It is found that 60% of the olderworkers (above age 55) are given lower wages.

Teo (1994) argued that while the Singaporegovernment is trying to protect elderly people, the national policy containscontradictions that work against ratherthan for them.


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