Aging Workforce and Policy
Posted by suzanne at November 28th, 2020
I think it is timely to repost this blog from a few years ago. These key issues remain.
The population is aging in Canada as the baby boomer generation approaches and enters their later years. In a similar vein, the Canadian labour force is aging.
The aging population and labour force affect the Canadian economy. Policy makers, economists and government are concerned about how this will impact the economy.
Canada’s population growth is dependent upon the fertility rate, death rate and rate of immigration. Fertility rates have decreased over the decades as women have fewer children. Canadians are living longer. Immigration policy in Canada aims to bring more people into the country who can contribute to productivity and growth and compensation for the low fertility rate to keep the economy strong.
However, government, policy makers and economists do not fully recognize that older workers are eager to work and continue to work, in order to contribute to their communities. Older workers are skilled and experienced workers. They have communication, interpersonal and problem solving skills and have developed their ability to work with others. All of these skills are essential in the workplace today.
As the populations ages and the workforce becomes older, all levels of society are impacted by demographic change. Importantly, this impacts organizations who are worried about a chronic labour shortage resulting from a rapidly aging population. Organizations have identified skill shortages in different roles across various industries. This is a top priority for business leaders.
Around the globe, other countries are innovating to address these concerns. These countries believe that the best way to adopt a successful aging strategy is to realize that aging is an opportunity.
One example is Japan, where policy makers have been steering the growing number of healthy 60- and 70 year olds away from retirement into work. These mature workers are taking on work roles and this makes them productive members of society. They hold jobs ”that otherwise would be impossible to fill as the population shrinks.”1
Furthermore, an entrepreneurial focus on the aging demographic, with products and services to support aging, ensures that aging is a benefit that broader society can reap.
Although consumer spending growth overall is weak in Japan, economists at UBS Securities there say they believe the expansion of the senior market could more than offset any declines that come from a shrinking population, at least for a time.2
For Japan, the way forward is clear. For more, visit Aging Gracefully in the Wall Street Journal.
1 Schlesinger, J. M. & Martin, A. (2015). Entrepreneurs are exploring robotics and other innovations to unleash the potential of the elderly. Aging Gracefully: Graying Japan Tries To Embrace the Golden Years.