June 2013

Manitoba Chamber of Commerce

Issue link: http://publications.winnipegfreepress.com/i/141831

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OLDER & WISER BOOMERANG GENERATION COMES BACK TO THE WORKPLACE By Alexandra Lopez-Pacheo On behalf of ThirdQuarter and Skills Connect Inc. For decades, the 9.6 million Canadians born between 1946 and 1965 have been the largest demographic in the labour force. Now that waves of baby boomers are retiring, employers are bracing for impact. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce warns that Canada's skilled-labour shortage is becoming so dire it represents a threat to our global economic competitiveness. The chamber predicts that over the next decade the country will experience a shortage of 163,000 workers in construction, 130,000 in oil and gas industries, 60,000 in nursing, 37,000 in trucking, 22,000 in the hotel industry and 10,000 in the steel trades. The problem may be further compounded by a knowledge gap. Young people entering the workforce lack the practical knowledge that comes with experience. "There are some things you can only learn in the field with experience," says Ralph Pritchard, a mechanical designer who returned to the workforce in his 70s to act as a mentor and coach for younger employees at a pipe design and manufacturing company. "The young guys know the software top to bottom, but there is a lot they don't know." Several recent studies and polls show that many boomers want to be part of the solution. According to the fourth Sun Life Canadian Unretirement Index conducted by Ipsos-Reid in 2011, only 30% of Canadians expect to be fully retired by 66. More than half expect to work until the age of 71. A growing number of companies have zeroed in on this solution. In 2011, ThirdQuarter, a national program designed to help match the skills of mature workers with opportunities, found that 60% of businesses it surveyed had hired an older worker in the past two years, and 79% were likely to do the same in the future. One-third of the 10,000 employees at Burlington, Ont.-based food and facilities management services company Sodexo Canada are over the age of 50. Sue Black, the company's head of human resources, told the Globe and Mail that the company's employee engagement scores show that older workers are "three times more engaged than younger employees, and their retention rate is 100 times better." Companies need to develop recruiting strategies that are geared to mature workers, including flexible or part-time hours, good health benefits, training opportunities and generous vacation time. But according to a best-practices manual created by the Government of Canada's Construction Sector Council, one of the first steps is to address ageism. It says recruitment teams may hold biases that "could inadvertently lead to discrimination against older applicants." It also points out that older applicants are often rejected because they're perceived as being over-qualified and thus not likely to stay with the organization. In fact, younger workers tend to change jobs more frequently. When mature workers are given roles that allow them to mentor younger generations, they may be more motivated to return to the workforce. In his book Managing the Older Worker, author Peter Cappelli suggests that businesses tailor rewards and benefits to mature workers' lifestyle and interests. Promotions and stock options don't matter as much to older workers, for whom meaningful work and social relationships are a bigger priority. MBiz June 2013 5 MBiz June 2013_final.indd 5 6/21/13 2:54:33 PM

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