Older workers not given time to learn new skills

This is a true story related to me.

A mid-50s woman had been working for relatives most of her life until the family business was dissolved. She went to CDAC for assistance for job matching services and she was introduced to an established food kiosk chain. (The identities of the person and the chain were not mentioned to protect both.)

On her first day of work, she was to work from 4 pm to 9 pm at one of the outlets in the chain. She had to learn how to make specialty drinks, prepare specialised food items, dispense soft ice cream onto a biscuit cone from a dispenser, clean the wash basin and the food preparation areas, and sell to the customers. A whole lot of new skills to learn in 5 hours! For the work, she is to be paid $4 an hour.

The sad part of the story was that the supervisor deemed her not suitable for the job and terminated her service after the first day and only paid her $10 for the 5 hours. She was then asked to sign a number of forms written in English which she was  not able to read and understand. (To be fair, this piece is written from the perspective of the individual.)

The questions I would like to raise are:

1) Is it fair to expect the newbie to pick up skills so quickly and their skills can be assessed in a short span of time?

2) Is there a structured training and induction before the new staff is expected to be effective and efficient?

3) Can different skillsets be taught progressively so that the worker is not overwhelmed?

4) Is there an experienced trainer from the chain to train the worker before she can be released to serve the customers?

5) Should there be a minimum ”try-out” period of at least one week to assess the potential of the worker?

It could be a case of paying lip service that the organisation takes in older workers or retrenched workers, when they expect satisfactory performance from them from day one. It will look impressive on record of the job matching agency that they are helping out in the community. Is there a follow-up by job matching agency as to why the worker was rejected on the first day of work? Is there a closure so that the workers can be advised what to do and how to make themselves employable?

Written on 2/16/2007 9:49 AM

Copyright © 2007, the author known as LKT in Singapore.

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