Are retirees the answer to regional HR woes?
Private sector job vacancies in Canada hit 3.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, a new high topping 2018’s record. That’s an estimated 435,000 vacancies, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
That number will only climb as the country ages. By 2036, only 54 per cent of Atlantic Canadians will be in the workforce, according to Statistics Canada estimates.
“The supply of middle-aged mainstream workers just isn’t there,” says Richard Gallant, executive director of education and lifelong learning at Skills PEI, a federal-provincial partnership that delivers skills training. “We need to look at under-represented groups to see how we can support more participation in the workforce.”
One group Gallant advises employers to court now is older workers. By 2025, nearly 20 per cent of the Atlantic Population will be over 65.
Kim Smith is industry HR manager for the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., which organizes employment training programs for older workers.
“They’ve a lot of experience in their personal and professional lives that they now bring to the workforce,” she says, adding they often fill a mentorship role employers didn’t know they needed.
Before recruiting, understand this workforce has different expectations.
“Most of the time they’re not doing it for the income,” Smith says. “They retired but weren’t ready to stop. They want to feel valuable.” Most seek part-time work, and aren’t concerned about health plans and benefits, which they have through prior careers.
Employers need to restructure their thinking and workplaces, says Gallant. That means offering more, short shifts to accommodate older workers who want to work and play or care for partners. Many need mobility accommodations, Smith says, but that gives employers in the service industry a leg-up. As the population ages, many customers demand the same.
Why do senior have to leave the workforce?
Business owners who say a shortage of skilled labour is holding them back
Average retirement age in Canada
Average life expectancy in Canada
Source: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for an Aging Population