Why did employers take in those over-40s in the past...say 15 years ago? The reason is very simple. Singapore had a rather tight labor market so when the economy boomed employers couldn't find workers ddn't have much of a choice except to give those who were older a chance. The booming economy created opportunities for these people. When the recession came, they had as good a chance as anyone else of getting retrenched. If they became jobless, they had to struggle until the economy recovered before they got another shot at decent employment.....but that was the situation 15 years ago. What has changed?
When the PAP govt opened the floodgates for foreign workers, they also changed the demographics of our workforce. The supply of workers below the age of 30 became almost unlimited, given you can always find workers from India and China willing to come here. When the economy boomed in 2007/2008 the employers could employ hundreds of thousands of foreign workers. Instead of the labor market becoming tight creating opportunities for those over-40s, the influx of workers caused this group of Singaporeans to remained unemployed or underemployed during the boom.
% increase in employment (residents vs foreigners)
Chart taken from Online Citizen.[Link]
If the goal of the PAP govt simply wanted grow the GDP as fast as possible, it is easy to understand what they were trying to do. The huge influx of foreign workers caused the cost of living (e.g. rentals) to rise and the rapid growth of the economy caused it to overheat[Link : Singapore economy shows sign of overheating as companies hire workers at an unprecedented pace] .
The PAP continues to insist that its economic model is the best for ordinary Singaporeans but ordinary Singaporeans are beginning to ask : What's in it for us? Being forced to work until our old age burdened by the highest household debt in Asia while becoming increasing unemployable after the age of 40...is that something that we want for ourselves and our children? The wealth from this GDP growth distributed inequitably as the system results in an income gap comparable only to 3rd world nations.