January 9, 2023

Boomer retirements are creating a labour shortage across the country

For many, many years predictions of a “grey tsunami” of boomer retirements were linked to expected increases in the costs of healthcare and government retirement benefits.

But those retirements are also causing a labour shortage, the Canadian Press (via Global News) reports, that is now upon us.

The story, written by CP’s Amanda Stephenson, reports that the current wave of boomer retirement parties is making some employers quite nervous.

Dan Gallagher of Fort McMurray, Alta.-based Miskew Group tells CP “I take a walk around our shop, and around our field service workforce, and I can clearly see that demographic. It’s aging.”

Miskew, the article notes, already has been having labour shortage problems and has had to recruit from as far away as Australia.

“The ratio of apprentice to older worker here has been so low for so long that there just isn’t the bench strength to offset the people who are leaving,” Gallagher tells CP.

The article notes that “a looming wave of retirements” by baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, has long been predicted by experts, and is now creating a mass exit from the workforce.

The size of the workforce has been trending downward since 2000, the article reports, but the “grey wave…. is now crashing ashore.”

As of the second quarter of 2022, there were over a million job vacancies in Canada, the article notes. And while the participation rate amongst employed Canadians has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, the stats suggest that the exit of older workers is driving the labour shortage.

Citing recent research from Scotiabank, the article reports that “the decline in overall workforce participation that does exist is entirely due to Canadians aged 60 and above exiting the workforce. That means the real root of the current problem is Canada’s aging population, and it has broad implications for the country’s economy.”

Patrick Gill of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce tells CP that 36 per cent of Canadian businesses are reporting labour shortages, a figure that jumps to 45 per cent in the manufacturing sector and 58 per cent in food and accommodation.

“It translates to everyone working more hours, and that ultimately affects quality of life. It means slower growth, and it’s also a factor in supply chain delays,” Gill states in the article.

The article concludes by saying that a younger workforce is now “a new reality,” and employers are going to have to go that extra mile to attract and retain new talent.

“Labour is going to be very difficult to find and employers are going to have to work hard to attract employees,” the University of Toronto’s Rafael Gomez tells CP.t

This is a very interesting report.

For younger people, this labour shortage represents a time of employment opportunity not seen for many decades, where there are suddenly a lot of good jobs out there to be filled. Let’s hope employers take a page out of the past — we are thinking the post-war boom, but even into the ‘60s and ‘70s — and begin to offer more and better retirement programs to attract new talent.

If you don’t have a workplace retirement savings program and are on your own for retirement savings, take a look at the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. It’s open to any Canadian with registered retirement savings plan room. Let SPP do the heavy lifting of retirement investing and asset growth, while you focus on making regular contributions to your future. When you too are ready to depart the workforce, your SPP account will be there for you, ready to be converted into retirement income. Check out SPP today!

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Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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