Article contributed by AIA Singapore
Singaporeans today may need to prepare to work longer than any previous generation. While this may be a bold statement, it may not be far off from the truth.
Singaporeans already enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world, with those born today expected to live up to a ripe old age of 84.8 years. In fact, this is longer than even countries traditionally thought to have the oldest populations, including Japan (2nd , 84.2 years) and Switzerland (3rd, 84.0 years).
In 1990, Singaporeans had an average life expectancy of 76.1 years. This is over 8.5 years less than Singaporean’s life expectancy in today. With continuing advancement in medical science and more focus on living healthier, access to better healthcare and earlier detection of serious health conditions will accelerate in future. This will likely to prolong the lifespan of Singaporeans, and people globally.
Besides life expectancy, having a Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE) is important for quality of life. HALE measures the number of years that a person can expect to live in full health. Singapore tops the chart in this regard as well, with a HALE of 74.2 years. Again, this is higher than Japan (2nd, 73.1 years) and Hong Kong (3rd, 73.6 years).
We need to prepare for a longer career too
With this trend, it also means the way current and future generations of Singaporeans live, work and play may vary to past generations, or even other countries.
For the generation before us, retiring between 60 and 65 may be the norm. Today, the Singapore government has already announced that the retirement and re-employment age will be extended to 65 and 70, from 62 and 67, respectively. These will be implemented in phases by about 2030.
One thing Singaporeans need to come to terms with is that to sustain a longer lifespan and potentially longer retirement, we need to prepare for a longer time in the workforce. In order for us to have a long and fulfilling career, we have to pay attention to these four things.
- Do what you love, because you will be doing it for a long time
When you choose your occupation, you should lean towards doing what you love rather than what pays you the most or what is easy. This is because you don’t want to only have a long career, you want to have a long and fulfilling career.
Even if you are able to earn more money in another occupation, that may only be at the beginning. There is a good chance that if you enjoy your work, you will take the extra initiative to excel at it. As time passes, your earnings potential will rise alongside your expertise in the field.
This may be more valuable than starting off in an occupation that pays higher, but you have little interest or motivation in it outside working hours. In the long-run, being in a career you enjoy may also pay you better.
- Be open to upgrading, upskilling and learning new things
Today, many Singaporeans are already expected to be in the workforce for close to four decades, between the age of 25 to 65. In the future, as life expectancy continues to increase, you may be expected to work even longer.
This only increases your likelihood of falling into a career pitfall as more jobs become automated or redundant. Even if your job is not affected, you will definitely be required to pick up updated or complementary skills, and knowledge to be good at your job.
As you age, your preference in what you want to do may change and your ability to do certain jobs may be impacted. This only adds to the argument that everyone needs to be open to upgrading, upskilling or learning entirely new things to remain relevant in the workforce.
- Care for your health and vitality
While statistics point to Singaporeans living longer and healthier lives, no one should take health for granted. You still need to maintain your wellbeing to continue being a productive member of the workforce into your 60s or 70s.
This includes eating right, exercising regularly, spending quality time with family and friends, going for regular health screenings, and avoiding bad habits like smoking.
- Have a financial safety net
A financial safety net for yourself and your family takes unnecessary pressure off your shoulders, enabling you to make better career decisions. As many of you will spend increasingly more time in employment than previous generations, you also need to ensure that your financial safety net evolves in tandem.
Short-term safety nets such as your emergency and other savings can help when you encounter periods of unemployment through retrenchment, caring for a newborn or loved ones, or ill-health.
Longer-term safety nets are equally important, such as your CPF for retirement, your home for your family and your investments for your children’s education or your own retirement.
There are also unforeseen scenarios that you need to consider when putting in place a comprehensive financial safety net for you and your family. This includes your life insurance, providing a payout for your family if you are no longer around to provide for them, as well as your health insurance, for hospitalisation and critical illnesses.
Protect against unforeseen critical illnesses
As you prepare for a career that will span longer than previous generations, you want to be able to do something fulfilling and continually develop your skills. However, you should not neglect other important areas in your life, which provide balance and ultimately help you excel in your career. This includes experiencing life, caring for your health and also implementing prudent financial safety nets.
The better your plans, be it for a longer career, fulfilling family life, keeping healthy or protecting your family’s financial future, the greater the peace of mind you will enjoy.