Matching the vital corps of retired professionals to part-time positions in the community has become a global issue. With over 10 years of continuous service, ReServe is now a valuable resource for overseas organizations who are seeking to make the most of the talents of their Baby Boomer cohorts.
On May 24th, ReServe welcomed two representatives from the Centre for Seniors, Singapore. Its Executive Director, and Adviser Charles Chin were in New York on a fact-finding mission, and met with ReServe Associate Director Betsy Conrad, as well as representatives from Easter Seals and Fedcap, ReServe’s parent company.
Three ReServists joined to provide their perspectives on the program. Willie Werwaiss, a Dementia Coach, Barbara Ross, an HR Manager, and fundraiser Michelle Arnot each shared their experience with the program and what motivated their interest. The visitors were eager to learn how ReServe has recruited and found positions for our candidates as they explore how their own country will absorb an influx of skilled, mature workers in the coming years.
“Our country has a mandatory retirement age of 62, which the government is hoping to raise to 65 or maybe as high as 67 in the near future,” Sia Hoe said. With its small population and limited immigration policy, extending the retirement age is crucial to the local economy.
Much like the ReServEd lecture series, The Centre for Seniors provides courses on topics such as resume writing, mentoring, as well as computer skills workshops. Due to the diverse population of Singapore, in addition to English, it offers these courses in Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. Since 2006 the Centre has also offered employment opportunities for the over-50 population. According to Sia Hoe, by 2020 a projected one-third of Singaporeans will fall into this category, which is a significant spike in a country of 5.5 million just three times the size of Washington, DC.
Ashley Groesbeck of Easter Seals New York presented on the SCSEP program, which uses federal funds to train and place low-income seniors in internships and jobs. Sia Hoe observed that some of her clients would benefit from an Easter Seals model, and that ultimately their program might be a hybrid of the types of memberships of ReServe and Easter Seals.
Although the set of challenges of the Centre for Seniors clearly deviates from the ReServe model, there were a sufficient number of parallels to provide answers for the visitors. For example, each has to balance the number of recruits to jobs. Betsy pointed out that from the outset ReServe had commitments from nonprofits and the City due to outreach by an active, strong Board.
Keeping the pool of talent engaged posed another challenge. Both organizations agreed that producing an in-house newsletter, offering ongoing lectures or refresher programs are an effective way to build community from within.
As the conversation came to an end the Singaporean visitors extended a warm invitation to tour their facility so that they could reciprocate the warm welcome they received in New York.