What's the solution for an aging workforce?<br>Training, and lots of it.

Government report suggests training and development is the best way to combat the aging workforce

Recent census numbers confirm the workforce is aging. Now, the provinces and the federal government are teaming up to address the issue — and more training for older workers heads the list of possible solutions.

The Forum of Labour Market Ministers released its report, entitled Older Workers and the Labour Market: Employment Challenges, Programs and Policy Implications, to provide a comprehensive review of the situation of older workers in Canada.

“This report suggests that training can be a very effective tool to help older workers remain gainfully employed and experience job satisfaction,” said Drew Caldwell, Manitoba’s Minister of Education, Training and Youth. “But to provide such assistance, continuous training and development efforts must be initiated early.”

Over the next decade, the number of Canadians aged 55 to 64 will increase more than 50 per cent. The report focused on how older workers are adjusting to the labour market. Examining the years 1976 to 1998, the report found older workers:

•experience greater labour market difficulties since they are concentrated in traditional industries, many of which experienced zero or negative growth;

•have non-transferable skills and have held jobs requiring limited qualifications, low levels of education and training; and

•look for jobs offering similar wages to those they used to receive.

Barriers to hiring older workers

The report also identified several barriers to hiring older workers today. They include:

•lack of job search skills;

•high wage expectations;

•employer bias;

•lack of education and training;

•lack of mobility; and

•geographical location.

“Older workers already make a significant contribution to Canadian society, and will assume a more important role in the labour market as the population grows,” said Jane Stewart, the federal Minister of Human Resources Development. “This report demonstrates how federal, provincial and territorial governments are working in partnership to gain a better understanding of the needs of older workers.”

Brighter future

In the long haul, the report suggests the above problems with older workers will dissipate, primarily because the older workers of tomorrow (those currently aged 45 to 54) possess higher levels of education, have switched careers a number of times, have more experience at adapting to technological change and will be more willing to participate in training and development.

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