Tapping on the Untapped Labour Market

woman on her phone

Huh, Singapore’s retirement age is so high but there is still untapped labour in the market? Compared to other OECD countries, our unemployment rate is one of the lowest and yet there is still untapped labour? Hold on, where is the untapped labour? I’ll do one better, who is untapped labour? More importantly, why is the untapped labour? (Yes, an Avengers reference)

But nobody asks how is untapped labour?

Compared to an “ideal worker” with a 9-to-5 job, the untapped labour population might seem like they are considered to be “unemployed”. However, with the rise of the gig economy, we are seeing more individuals engaging in freelance work, including homemakers that run home-based businesses or being a private hire car driver. These individuals are redefining the boundaries of an “ideal worker”, as well as the traditional top-down dynamics between the employer and the employee in an economy.

Active Silvers

Active silvers draws down CPF funds in monthly payouts. But they worry about the longevity risk. Aside from worrying that they will outlive their income stream from CPF, they are also unwilling to rely on their children for financial support after retirement. Though they are on the Lease Buyback Scheme (LBS), simply passively waiting for their LBS bonus each month makes them wonder if retirement is all about being constantly fixated on securing retirement adequacy by looking for sources of passive income. 

They hear younger friends that are approaching the retirement age lamenting about their decreased productivity, lack of adaptability and technological skills. However, there is “no consistent evidence” to suggest that older workers are less productive than younger ones. 

An example of active silvers with technology.

Source: Grandpa Chan & Grandma Marina

Plus, it would be a folly to think that older workers are not technologically adept and adaptive. Some are even avid users of Instagram and share educational videos that the hibiscus flower is edible.


Homemakers are in charge of managing the operations of their household, making sure their children’s homework is completed and meals are prepared on time, just to name a few chores. At the same time, they battle with the fact that domestic labour is not recognised as part of the formal workforce. The result is that homemakers do not have CPF savings and feel more financially insecure compared to those in the formal workforce. This means that they might end up relying on family members’ Medisave to pay for healthcare bills, depending on a working spouse to make voluntary top-up to their CPF accounts, or simply drawing directly on their savings. 

They hear of working mothers lamenting that few companies offer flexi-work arrangement and fewer offer workplace solutions for childcare, which turn them away from the possibility of working in an organisation. 

Yet they are equipped with skill sets that can earn them a side hustle or even a freelance job. Aside from that, the motivation of wanting to provide for their families in an employee may be the holy grail that employers seek. 


They are managing their studies while provided for by their parents, essentially the top-tier sponsorship. However, they would start ruminating on the nature of independent existence, ignited by a restrained desire for a mini rebellion against the surveillance of Asian parents. 

The alter ego of a teenager in a controlling environment.

Source: Time Out

At the same time, they are also seeking opportunities to expand their skill sets by taking up freelancing jobs which includes part-time tutoring. These all add up to cultivating soft skills such as communication and building up students’ professional portfolios and resumes. Or perhaps, the end goal in mind is to save up enough to purchase that new iPhone 12 or iPad Air. 

Equipped with the advantage of a flexible schedule, they are the best match for companies looking to hire freelancers to complete ad-hoc projects and events-based tasks. 

Still wondering about why is the untapped labour? The question is, why is the untapped labour untapped? The potential of people in this population is yet to be realised and it is nothing short of a goldmine for observant businesses. If you belong to any of those groups, the gig economy calls out to you and Outside is here to connect you to that. Download Outside App today to find out tasks posted by our community that would best suit your skill sets and earn some side cash!

Outside is a community-tasking app that connects users to help each other out for their daily inconveniences. Since its launch in 2017, the app has gained recognition for its work through media features and competitions, where it has won multiple awards. Currently, the app boasts over 10,000 users and is officially supported by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY)’s #SGUnited and Majurity Trust’s #SGStrong. 

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