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Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.

New data from Statistics Canada shows that for the first time, more than one in five members of the Canadian work force are close to retirement age (55-64). What’s more, this cohort of older workers outnumbers the young adults (aged 15-24) who are entering the labour market.

While our aging population certainly isn’t breaking news, Jason Ribeiro, a University of Calgary researcher, believes there are three key ways to lessen the impact of the demographic challenge.

Combatting the impact of an aging population

“I think the recognition that this is a challenge that’s not going to be solved entirely by the government is important,” Mr. Ribeiro said. All sectors must be engaged in partnerships that can creatively manage labour shortages.

For example, private employers may need to start thinking differently.

“We’re going to see an expansion of education and training budgets for upskilling; we’re going to need to see employers maximizing the pool of applicants that they’re drawing from.”

According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, 67 per cent of Canadian autistic adults are unemployed, yet many want to work. Creating workplaces where those with differing abilities can thrive could be one key to building a stronger work force.

As for nonprofits, Mr. Ribeiro said, “I think [nonprofits will be] increasingly relied upon for wraparound support for [workers with diverse needs], if they are indeed expanding the pool. So things like language barriers for newcomers, and child care services are going to be increasingly important as well.”

Next, Mr. Ribeiro said we need to look at talent pipelines with postsecondary schools.

“This really has to be something that is done across the board, where 100 per cent of postsecondary students at least have access to one meaningful experiential learning process or opportunity during their degree programs.”

Canada has done particularly well when it comes to technology – the latest edition of LinkedIn’s work force Report for Canada shows that the country’s tech talent work force outpaced the United States over the past 12 months (1.6-per-cent growth rate in Canada compared to 1.1 per cent in the U.S.). However, there is still work to be done in other sectors, such as trucking.

Lastly, “we need to continue to scale up immigration to help prevent that GDP decline and reduce the burden on a shrinking pool of dollars and the workers generating that income to fund core services,” Mr. Ribeiro said.

Because we have a low birth rate at around 1.4 births per woman, we need to rely on other sources to replace our retirees. Mr. Ribeiro said we’ve taken steps in the right direction by creating an increasingly competitive selection process for new immigrants to come to Canada.

Provinces such as Alberta are also taking advantage of express entry and fast-track visas to bring in more immigrant technology workers, and the federal government has increased funding for settlement services.

To keep the momentum, we can expand the Provincial Nominee Program to identify those who wish to become permanent residents and are likely already in Canada studying or working, Mr. Ribeiro said.

Taking action to combat an aging population can have “corresponding unintended consequences.” For example, when we think about immigration, we also need to consider how it could affect the Canadian housing crisis.

However, Mr. Ribeiro said we still need to act.

“If we are not able to bridge the gap that a digitally transforming economy might have … of what an increasingly greying Canada might present … [and find] ways for our work force to be more productive – I think we’re going to experience additional and unnecessary challenges.”

What I’m reading around the web

  • In the tech industry, location-based salaries have been the norm. Companies would use benchmarks advertised in different cities or regions, rather than living costs, to determine pay. Now, as remote hiring is booming and the talent market remains tight, people and companies are questioning this approach.
  • Did you know your introversion or extroversion affects your income and wealth? Keep reading to find out which personality type makes more money and spends more money, and how your personality can drive you to make certain financial decisions.
  • May is Asian American And Pacific Islander Heritage Month – a time to celebrate and learn about the meaningful contributions of Asian Canadians. Here’s a resource you can use to learn about Asian heritage, authors and more.
  • While some people have had a generally positive experience over the past few years, many have not – and it’s leading to feelings of regret. Here’s exactly what regret is, how to recognize your feelings and how to make peace with your regrets so you can move forward.

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