‘Third-quar­ter’ work­ers val­ued for skills

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - CAREERS - By An­drew A. Duffy

ANEW em­ploy­ment pro­gram de­signed to bridge a grow­ing skills gap, counter a loom­ing labour short­age and help older Cana­di­ans get back into the work­force has hit the ground in Vic­to­ria.

ThirdQuar­ter matches Cana­di­ans in their third quar­ter of life with em­ploy­ers and or­ga­ni­za­tions look­ing for full­time, part-time and tem­po­rary help.

The pro­gram works a lit­tle like an online dat­ing site. Af­ter un­der­go­ing a self-ad­min­is­tered skills as­sess­ment, those aged 50 or older post their skills on www.thirdquar­ter.ca, iden­ti­fy­ing their at­tributes and al­low­ing them to con­nect with com­pa­nies look­ing for spe­cific skills.

“Some peo­ple have called it eHar­mony for the labour mar­ket,” said Bruce Carter, CEO of the Greater Vic­to­ria Cham­ber of Com­merce, which ad­min­is­ters the pro­gram. “Tal­ent short­age is a chal­lenge for many lo­cal busi­nesses, and this pro­gram is a great tool to help tap an ex­ist­ing pool of re­sources.”

Carter noted the need for the ser­vice is ob­vi­ous given Canada is about to ex­pe­ri­ence a re­tire­ment boom and has an ag­ing work­force that is not be­ing re­placed by younger gen­er­a­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada, the pro­por­tion of peo­ple aged over 65 to the rest of the pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to hit 25 per cent by the end of the 2030s as baby boomers re­tire. That group, born be­tween 1946 and 1966, started turn­ing 65 this year. It’s also ex­pected that onethird of the Cana­dian work­force will re­tire in the next 15 years.

“There are a lot of peo­ple leav­ing the work­force and they have ex­pe­ri­ence and tal­ents that can be used in our econ­omy to fur­ther our qual­ity of life. We know we have a tremen­dous sup­ply of that labour in Greater Vic­to­ria,” said Carter, not­ing cham­ber mem­bers have al­ways cited a short­age of qual­ity labour as a bar­rier to growth.

“We know we are head­ing into a de­mo­graphic crunch where we will be chal­lenged and we feel the ThirdQuar­ter pro­gram is a great re­source,” he said.

“And I think we also need to rec­og­nize the value of the ex­pe­ri­ence of the third-quar­ter worker.”

And there’s also the fact many peo­ple “of a cer­tain age” are not in­ter­ested in gar­den­ing or golf­ing.

Len Neufeld is one of those peo­ple. He had an un­easy feel­ing as he was near­ing re­tire­ment 12 years ago. “I just kept think­ing, ‘wait a minute, what am I go­ing to do with my­self?’ “ the 75-yearold re­called. “I was look­ing for­ward to not hav­ing to get up at 5 a.m. and go­ing to work, but I knew I was go­ing to have to find some­thing to keep me oc­cu­pied and get me out of the house.”

Af­ter he re­tired from his job ser­vic­ing vend­ing ma­chines, Neufeld man­aged to stay busy for four months, which in­cluded time to move from On­tario and set­tle in.

But once the pic­tures had been put up in the new home, he knew it was time to dust off the re­sumé. He works three days a week at Cana­dian Tire.

Char­lie Getty, 80, tells a sim­i­lar tale, say­ing he knew he was never re­ally cut out for tak­ing it easy.

“I went into semi-re­tire­ment around age 58 and re­al­ized ‘what am I go­ing to do here? I’m not ready for this,’” said the former se­nior ex­ec­u­tive with the Hud­son’s Bay Co.

“Be­sides, how much golf can you play?”

Getty found a sales job with the Greater Vic­to­ria Cham­ber of Com­merce. It started as full-time but he now works part-time hours.

Getty said work­ers in that 50-plus range can be a huge as­set to any com­pany.

“They have ex­pe­ri­ence, they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced every­thing, (em­ploy­ers) know they know the rules and the game,” he said, not­ing em­ploy­ees with that kind of ex­pe­ri­ence have the soft skills you only learn on the job and over time.

Cana­dian Tire store owner Dave Ul­lathorne said tap­ping into the older de­mo­graphic fills a skills gap, adds ex­pe­ri­ence to the staff ros­ter and fills holes in the sched­ule.

“A lot of our younger staff want full­time work, but in re­tail you need part­time as well,” he said.

“(ThirdQuar­ter) is a new pro­gram but we have al­ways looked to hire a va­ri­ety of peo­ple. We don’t dis­crim­i­nate be­tween young and old, we try to find some­one who fits the bill. This is a great pro­gram as it can match up skills and the hours they are look­ing for.”

There is no cost for ei­ther the worker or com­pany look­ing for tal­ent as the $2.3-mil­lion pro­gram — it’s a two-year pi­lot pro­gram that kicked off last year — is fi­nanced by the fed­eral govern­ment.

Michael Ste­wart, ThirdQuar­ter’s national man­ager, said the pro­gram dif­fers from other job sites in that it doesn’t use tra­di­tional re­sumés to find matches.

“Un­like tra­di­tional em­ploy­ment pro­grams, the em­ployer does not sim­ply post a po­si­tion and pas­sively await re­sponses from po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees. The pro­gram ac­tively searches for po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees with the skills sought and pro­vides the em­ployer with po­ten­tial matches,” he said.

ThirdQuar­ter started in Man­i­toba last year in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties where the young tend to leave and busi­nesses face a labour short­age. It has ex­panded to Saskatchewan, the At­lantic prov­inces and B.C.

Across Canada, there are 14 com­mu­ni­ties us­ing the pro­gram. Over the last 18 months, it has reg­is­tered 4,400 work­ers and 1,600 firms, with an av­er­age of more than 300 new jobs posted each month. Vic­to­ria al­ready has 33 work­ers and 10 busi­nesses reg­is­tered.

— Postmedia News

ADRIAN LAM / TIMES COLONIST

“I knew I was go­ing to have to find some­thing to keep me oc­cu­pied and get me out of the house,” says 75-year-old Len Neufeld.

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