Older Workers At Risk of Withdrawing from the Labour Force or Becoming Unemployed: Employers' views on how to retain and attract older workers

Foreword

In 2011, the National Seniors Council (NSC) submitted its report, Labour Force Participation of Seniors and Near Seniors and Intergenerational Relations. The Ministers of Health and Human Resources and Skills Development tasked the NSC through the Minister of State (Seniors) to build on that report and specifically look at older workers at risk of withdrawing from the labour force or becoming unemployed.

Members of the NSC met the challenge and, through interviews and on-line consultations with employers, sector councils, and other stakeholder organizations have developed a number of recommendations for the federal government to consider. The Council found these consultations to be a challenge as employers and other organizations that participated in the study did not differentiate between older workers in general and older workers considered at-risk for the purposes of this consultationFootnote 1 .

From this report, and the NSC’s last report mentioned above, it is evident that one of the approaches to meet labour shortages, both existing and forecasted, will be to encourage older workers to stay longer in the labour force and for employers to target their employment strategies to the needs of older workers, including at-risk older workers. Many older workers, including at‑risk older workers, want to and are capable of making a positive contribution to the workforce.

However, during the consultations, the Council found that although there is a general understanding and appreciation of the current and upcoming labour shortages in most sectors of the economy, employers are doing very little to encourage older workers’ participation to help respond to these shortages.

Hopefully, this report will be a first step in making employers aware of the potential benefits of recruiting and retaining older workers, particularly those at risk of withdrawing from the labour force, to at least partly address these labour and skills shortages.

To that end, the Council feels that, given the current economy and demographic shift, this is an opportune time for employers to implement measures to recruit and retain older workers, particularly those deemed at risk.

This report includes examples of employers who have developed programs and designed policies to accommodate and encourage older workers’ labour force participation. As well, the report presents employers’ views of the advantages of older worker participation to both employers and employees. These are model employers and their experiences should be part of the awareness efforts that are required to help educate business leaders of the value of older workers in the workforce.

On behalf of the members of the NSC, I wish to thank all of the organizations that participated in the consultations on this very important issue. This report would not have been possible without their insightful input.

Sincerely,

Signature of Jean-Guy Soulière

Jean-Guy Soulière
Chair,
National Seniors Council

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