‘Third-quarter’ workers valued for skills
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
“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.