Tuesday, September 14, 2021

How This Initiative Creates Equal Opportunity For Seniors In The Workforce


Community Care organisations continually endeavour to provide utmost care for Singapore's growing population of seniors. In this article, mosAIC explores how one organisation helps seniors integrate better into the workforce by overcoming age discrimination and empowering them to lead fulfilling lives.

Experts say that employment can lower a senior's likelihood of depression. This is because stressors such as a loss of income and independence contribute to a sense of hopelessness. Moreover, being engaged at work helps seniors stay physically and mentally active, and keep diseases like dementia at bay. Which is why in 1996, the founding members of Bizlink Centre created a community to enable more seniors to be actively engaged, complement the workforce and even contribute to Singapore's economy.

Creating Equal Opportunities for Seniors

A beneficiary who has benefited from the programmes at Bizlink Centre working at her job placement. Image was taken before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bizlink Centre provides a holistic programme to aid beneficiaries, including seniors and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), to prepare for the workforce. The programme is one of the projects by Bizlink Centre that is supported by the Community Silver Trust (CST). Through workshops and various programmes, beneficiaries can be upskilled or retrained before accepting job placements in various industries, such as food and beverages, logistics, and data management. With a strong network of partner corporations such as FairPrice Foundation, Cisco and Mitsubishi Electric, Bizlink Centre has successfully integrated a few of their beneficiaries into the workforce. Here’s how they did it.

Structured Engagement to Prepare Beneficiaries for Open Employment

Bizlink Centre has structured programmes to support seniors with job placements. Each programme is carefully designed to develop the vocational and social skills required for beneficiaries to manage daily activities in their assigned workplace.


About the Programme

How Beneficiaries Benefit

Day Activity Centre (DAC) Programme

This programme is designed together with the beneficiaries' caregivers and healthcare professionals to provide custom support for beneficiaries while in training. Programme beneficiaries are carefully engaged with work therapy activities on a smaller scale to prepare them for their assigned roles.

  • Get exposed to the fundamentals of the different types of skills
  • Explore work therapy activities on a smaller scale

Work Therapy Programme

This programme focuses on lifelong learning and skills development, and offers a safe environment for beneficiaries to build their social skills and foster good work relationships. Beneficiaries who complete this programme will gain independent living and working skills before transiting to the Sheltered Workshop Programme.

  • Enhanced vocational and social skills
  • Promotes independent living skills
  • Helps with improving physical maintenance

Sheltered Workshop Programme

This programme focuses on a conducive on-the-job training environment. The training is specifically designed to prepare beneficiaries for gradual transitioning into employment in the workplace.

  • Tailored training plans for each individual
  • Exposure to potential on-the-job scenarios
  • Equipped with work skills suited to their personalities

With no age limit set, seniors who are able to follow instructions are welcome to sign up with Bizlink Centre to explore the programmes. The training programmes are conceptualised with healthcare professionals and customised for different beneficiaries to ensure they are ready for job placements.

Employment Programmes Connecting the Workforce to Corporates

Currently supporting more than  200 beneficiaries, Bizlink Centre’s goals evolve with their community's needs. To bridge the disconnect between beneficiaries and corporations, Bizlink Centre started offering employment services to corporations.

Through their in-house sheltered workshop programmes, Bizlink Centre employs beneficiaries who are not ready for job placements in the workforce. Bizlink Centre then offers these services to corporations as a placement partner. These workshops consist of the following services:

Types of Services

Job Scope

Packing and Fulfilment

  • Perform fulfilment of contracts for packing
  • Pack event goodie bags
  • Affix address labels on letters
  • Add label stickers to products
  • Shrink wrap loose products
  • Perform quality checks on packed orders

Cards and Gifts

  • Design printed cards and calendars
  • Sew batik-printed bags, pouches, lanyards and face masks
  • Hand-craft copper tooling plaques and frames
  • Pack customised corporate gifts

Floral and Hampers

  • Make fresh flower table and bouquet arrangements
  • Wrap festive hampers and health food baskets
  • Prepare condolences wreath and congratulatory stands floral arrangement and wrapping

Food and Beverages

  • Perform kitchen work at the Cafe and Catering in the kitchen located within Institute of Mental Health (IMH)
  • Handle sales and customer service at the Cafe
  • Prepare food for event catering and tea receptions
  • Pack bento sets and festive delicacies


A beneficiary wrapping a hamper under Bizlink Centre’s employment.

Pivoting in the Face of the Pandemic

Bizlink Centre's largest work engagement source is from the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions (MICE) industry. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation has seen limited corporate support and reduced buying services from social enterprises in areas widely supported by MICE industries. As such, Bizlink Centre increased their engagement with companies from other sectors that require services such as packing and fulfilment to offer a steady stream of work engagements for their beneficiaries.

Advocating Age Inclusivity in the Workplace

As an advocate for seniors and PWDs to be a part of the workforce, Bizlink Centre hopes that more like-minded corporations can move beyond the dated and limiting beliefs about older workers. They also urge more corporations could take a more active approach to include seniors in their workplace.

These approaches include making workplace arrangements that accommodate seniors, allowing them to enter the company with confidence, and enabling them to have manageable roles and responsibilities. Companies can also consider redesigning roles and jobs that rely on expertise rather than labour-intensive work that requires vigour.

They can also consider reverse mentoring programmes, which involves younger employees who are more skilled mentoring seniors, to emphasise on skills and expertise instead of an employee's age. Having flexible working hours also allows companies to accommodate seniors in the workforce and consider their health status.

Established in 1986, Bizlink Centre is a non-profit organisation dedicated to equip their beneficiaries like seniors and PWDs with the right skills and empower them to lead fulfilling lives through enabling employment. If you have any inquiries or know someone interested in signing up, you may contact info@bizlink.org.sg to learn more.

About Community Silver Trust

CST is a dollar-for-dollar donation matching grant, raised by eligible organisations providing intermediate and long term care (ILTC) services. This trust fund aims to enable the Health and Social service sector to enhance capabilities and provide value-added services to achieve higher quality and affordable step down care. It is managed by the Ministry of Health and administered by Agency for Integrated Care.

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