After a career with the National Parks Board (NParks) spanning 35 years, Mr Abdul Hamid Mohd feels he still has more to offer to keep Singapore green.
The 61-year-old started working as an assistant curator at the then Parks and Recreation Department in 1985. He is now the director of arboriculture in the Streetscape Division, where he leads a team of skilled arborists to manage urban trees and ensure that they are growing well.
"I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to be able to see our greenery grow and establish, and to know that our work is appreciated by the public," he said.
He believes the Public Service's move to raise the retirement age to 63 from July 1 this year - one year ahead of the national schedule - is a positive one. It will also offer re-employment to eligible officers until they turn 68.
"If we are physically and mentally healthy and we wish to continue working, then we should be allowed to," he added.
At NParks, initiatives are in place to help older staff to continue contributing. For instance, the agency has been tapping technology for its tree management regime.
In years past, arborists could only climb a tree or use an aerial device to lift themselves into the tree crown for tree inspections - a physically taxing activity that would be tough for older workers, said Mr Abdul Hamid, whose tasks include carrying out detailed tree inspections of heritage trees and reviewing the tree management operating procedures based on the latest research.
"With the adoption of technology, we are able to use cameras mounted on telescopic poles or fly a drone instead to minimise the need to climb trees."
He works closely with his colleagues and they, in turn, do not hesitate to approach him for advice.
"Although I may not be as physically fit as my younger colleagues, as long as my mental faculty is intact, I will still be able to assess a tree, conduct training, and share my knowledge, skills and experience with others," he noted.
Mr Abdul Hamid recalled how a fellow worker had approached him to discuss ways to address a structural defect in a particular tree. He then advised the colleague to consider ideas beyond existing methods such as props, cabling and bracing.
"A few days later, he came back with many ideas and it was clear he had thought out of the box and even looked beyond the particular tree he was studying," Mr Abdul Hamid said. "After this, he became more open-minded when seeking arboricultural solutions, and was always enthusiastic in sharing what he learns with others."
Mr Abdul Hamid said mature workers have years of experience that their colleagues can tap.
"There is knowledge that cannot be found in books, but gained only through experience. This wealth of experience by older workers is therefore very valuable," he added.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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