If You Want Work, The Workforce Wants You!

By Mathieu Powell

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The World is Your Oyster

Do you want to work past the age of retirement? Do you want to go back to work? The world will very soon be your oyster and you will literally be sought out if you want to continue working or return to work.  If you have been facing ageism in your career, you are going to have the last laugh. Next year, nearly 40 percent of Canadian workers will be over the age of 45.  And by 2056, one-quarter of Canada's population will be over 65. 

Employers Want YOU.

Not only are businesses experiencing a growing number of senior customers, but they are beginning to realize that hiring mature workers is extraordinarily beneficial.

"I ask business owners all the time and they tell me they like the idea of hiring retired people because it is more likely they will be dependable, personable, and form relationships with the customers," says Edie Copeland, Executive Director of Silver Threads in Victoria. "They have a lifetime of wisdom to share and often not enough people to share it with." 

As a result, Silver Threads recently launched "Experience Works' - a seniors employment service designed to bring qualified, mature workers and employers together.

No More Mandatory Retirement

On Jan. 1, 2008, British Columbia became the latest province to give mandatory retirement the pink slip by enacting legislation to amend its human rights code and end the practice. As of that date, workers in B.C. are no longer forced to quit when they turn 65.

Dealing With Ageism

While many businesses are slowly coming around to the realization they will absolutely need to hire and retain mature workers, mature job seekers face some challenges when they need or want employment.

Marilyn Henigman who orchestrates the Fast Start 45+ program through Spectrum Job Search Centre helps mature job seekers face those challenges head on.  "Older adults need to take confidence in their life skills and not let ageism get in the way if they want to return to work." 

She suggests older adults confront their fears through taking positive actions and she provides sound tips to that end.

  • Present yourself in such a way as to allay a potential employer's fear of poor health.
  • Take courses to show you are a learner. 
  • Upgrade your computer and keyboard skills. Computers are really not that difficult to master and people 55 and older are taking to it faster than any other demographic.
  • Make sure your resumé is based on skills rather than job history.
  • Let the employer know you are there to stay.
  • Let them know you do not mind working with a younger manager or younger colleagues.

Apparent over-qualifications is one of the bigger problems faced by older adults seeking employment.Younger managers may not hire them because they fear losing their own positions to them, so it helps to be clear about why you want the job. While it's not true of everyone, many don't really want the responsibility of being the manager anymore, especially if they've already conquered the corporate ladder. If this is you, make sure you bring up this point if you sense it is an issue with the hiring person.

Working Past 65 or Returning to Work

It has been shown that those with the most education tend to enjoy their work and are reluctant to be turfed out. And many people want to keep working for a variety of other reasons, including because they enjoy the office camaraderie, sense of purpose or routine.

Single women, who were (and often still are) paid significantly less than men may have spent years out of the workforce to raise children. That means many haven't been able to put away as much money as men. And it can get worse down the line since female life expectancy outpaces that of men by about five years.

Other reasons seniors want to continue working include boredom - retirement after a few years can be tedious if you don't have something to engage you and allow you to contribute - or an outright need to work for economic survival. Whatever your reason, with good planning and preparation, mature adults can continue working past 65 or return to work that they enjoy.

What About CCP and OAS?

Many seniors may be concerned that if they return to work, they will endanger their Old Age Pension (OAP) or Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or other supplements and allowances. The rule of thumb for OAP and CPP is that once the amount you are paid has been set, you will continue to receive that amount.  The rules vary for other government programs.  It is strongly advised that mature workers or retired seniors choosing to go back to work first seek the advise of their local governmental offices, their taxation professional and their financial consultant to form the best working strategy for themselves.


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