Better engagement of Canada’s older workforce could significantly increase GDP and increase social, mental, and physical wellbeing of aging population – PwC Report

PwC Golden Age Index shows Canada ranks 16 out of 34 OECD countries

  • Older workforce can contribute US$51.3 billion in GDP Growth
  • Canadians over the age of 65 will constitute 23% of the country’s population by 2031.
  • 26% of Canadians have experience age-based discrimination


Toronto, ON – December 13, 2017 – Greater engagement of older workers in Canada, those aged 55-69, could lead to US$51.3 billion in GDP growth among other economic benefits in Canada, according to the PwC Golden Age Index. Canada, which ranks 16th out of 34 OECD countries, has a lower employment rate amongst older workers than notable OECD countries including Korea, Germany, Japan, and Sweden. According to the report, those over the age of 65 will constitute 23% of the Canadian population by 2031. The number of Canadian workers over the age 65 has drastically increased by 140% over the past decade. 

Automation is of particular concern for older workers.  Those who do not have the right digital skills are at risk of being negatively impacted over the next 10 to 20 years, with an anticipated decrease in employment levels for this age bracket, as the economy demands workers with greater digital skills - jobs that are often filled by younger workers.

“Canada’s remains in the middle of the pack of OECD countries when it comes to realizing the value of older workers, leaving room for much needed improvement,” says Karen Forward, Partner, People & Organization, PwC Canada. “Addressing how older workers can actively participate in the labour workforce and implementing supportive work environments and policies are key to Canada’s future economic prosperity. Improvements are   possible when there is a cultural shift - there is an opportunity for organizations to lead the way by innovating their development programs, and creating a sustainable work environment that contributes to the quality of life of its workers.”

The PwC Golden Age Index is a weighted average of seven measures, including employment rate of workers 55-64, gender gap in employment 55-64, participation in training 55-64, employment rate 65-69, effective labour force exit age 55-64, incidence of part-time work, and full-time earning 55-64.

The report takes findings a step further and outlines three clear action items, and their benefits, to help increase engagement of older workers in the workplace. These steps include:


Action #1: Improve employability

  • In Canada, 74% of older workers seeking work are willing to learn new skills to regain employment.
  • Only 30% of older workers in Canada are well versed in technology skills.
  • Policy makers in Canada should focus on promoting lifelong education and training opportunities to upskill older workers.
  • Canadian businesses can do the following to improve employability:
    • Offer technology training: Employers should invest in technology training for older workers so they have the necessary skills to deal with disruption.
    • Improve resume writing and job search skills: Employers should provide training on resume writing and current job skills as many older workers have not applied for jobs in many years.


Action #2: Reduce employment barriers for older workers

  • In Canada, 59% of people aged between 55-69 would take a part-time job during retirement to supplement in their income.
  • 26% of Canadians have experienced age-based discrimination. Ageist practices can lead to poor retention of older workers and create barriers to retain or rehire those wishing to re-enter the workforce.
  • Employers in Canada should provide older workers incentives to join and remain in the labour market.
  • Canadian businesses can do the following to reduce employment barriers:
    • Recalling retirees: establish a program that enables recall of retired workers
    • Phased retirement: Provide employees who are approaching retirement to continue to work and support their transition from full-time employment to full-time retirement
    • Mentorship program: Have older workers act as mentors to the younger generation to ensure that corporate memory is properly transferred.


Action #3: Encourage flexible work

  • In Canada, 47% of workers aged between 50-75 years old would continue to work if they could do so part-time.
  • 35% of workers aged between 50-75 years old would continue to work if they could work from home.
  • Flexible working in terms of both hours and location will support older workers in carving out a role which suits their changing working preferences and lifestyle.
  • Canadian businesses can do the following to encourage flexible work:
    • Teleworking: Many jobs can be completed off-site. Teleworking can be helpful for individuals who are not able to come to the office but can still complete work assignments remotely.
    • Unpaid short and long-term leave: Develop policies where employees can take leave periods throughout their career and then return to work, rather than retiring at specific age. 

For more information on the state of an older workforce in the Canadian workplace, as well as other next steps Canadian companies can take to bridge the gap, please view the full report here.

Follow PwC on Twitter at @PwC_Canada.


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