For decades, the 9.6 million Canadians born between 1946 and 1965 have been the single largest demographic in Canada’s labour force. Now, the oldest of these baby boomers have reached retirement age, and that has employers all across Canada bracing for a looming skills and labour shortage that will affect the country for the next 15 to 20 years.
Since there are not an equal number of young people with the right education, knowledge and skills ready to enter the work force and replace the boomers, this labour shortage can and is providing a great opportunity for those now retired or considering retirement to continue working and help ease this labour shortage.
A program launched on an experimental basis by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and called Third Quarter, zeroed in on a problem faced by a growing number of Canadian companies, and assisted them by matching the skills of older retired persons with employment opportunities. So succesful was the program that in 2011 it was adopted by chambers across the country. The program has helped 60 per cent of participating companies hire an older skilled worker in the past two years, and 79 per cent of the companies said they would likely take the same action in the future.
The retirees said they were either looking for work or had to work, and the reasons they gave were not surprising. Over a third of them indicated they were seeking a job because they wanted to work, 16 per cent had a financial need to work and 41 per cent indicated both financial need and a desire to work.
Besides the extra income and new outlook on life, many retirees returning to the work force said they wanted to stay sharp, and new job opportunities helped them do that.
Recent surveys have shown that only 30 per cent of Canadians expect to be fully retired by age 66, and more than half of those surveyed expected to be working until age 71.
Many retirees said they enjoyed the role their new work provided by allowing them to mentor and coach the younger generation workers. This new employment opportunity gave them the great satisfaction of playing a role in closing the knowledge gap within the company’s organization.
To learn more about the Third Quarter program you can go to their website, http://www.ThirdQuarter.ca. The website allows you to post your resumé. It also lists a number of job opportunities with companies now looking for skilled and experienced older workers.
Ernie Nairn is president of the Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce.