Singaporean authorities are gearing up for a series of educational reforms that will center on the country’s aging population, according to comments recently made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The city state is facing a growing population of citizens in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, who may only be able to maintain robust standards of living by returning to the workplace, something which could be expedited by forthcoming educational changes.

Arguing that the series of reforms facing the city state will be “not easy at all,” Prime Minister Lee nevertheless argued that a robust system of social support is needed to help older citizens return to the workplace.

“I must have the whole support system for them so that when they come in, their employers understand and they can focus on their jobs as well as on their studies and keep the balance,” the prime minister said, according to CNA.

An aging population

Singapore has one of the highest life expectancies in the world coupled with one of the lowest fertility rates across the globe, putting the city state in a particularly precarious situation when it comes to ensuring the future vibrancy of its economy. According to ASEAN Today, the economic and social impacts of the country’s aging population can already be seen; roughly one in four seniors are still working in Singapore, with the employment rate for those aged 65 and older skyrocketing from 13.6 percent in 2006 to 26.8 percent in 2018.

Particular attention is being paid to the city state’s healthcare sector, which is being burdened by longer life expectancies. According to a report released by the United Nations, the average life expectancy in Singapore rose from 79.6 years in 2004 to 81.7 years in 2010.

Under-served sectors

The report from the UN notes that serious issues like employability, healthcare, social engagement, housing, and transport problems will all necessitate an increased focus on the rising number of seniors living across Singapore as time goes on.

Singapore still allows very few migrants into the country to help support the aging population. Although tourists can easily obtain a Singapore tourist visa, getting a work visa to stay and serve the under-employed healthcare sector is difficult.

An analysis conducted by Business Insider maintains that discrimination on the basis of age remains a major hurdle for even well-educated seniors trying to rejoin the workforce.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Lee’s comments focused on tackling the forthcoming challenges with eager enthusiasm, partially by welcoming in newcomers to Singapore.

“We open the door, they come, they complement us,” Mr Lee said, per CNA. “We have to work hard, yes, but we work hard and we hold our own.”