For the first time ever, Canadians nearing retirement are poised to outnumber young people entering the workforce.
As the aging baby boomers approach retirement, the number of 55 to 64 year olds will surpass 15 to 24 year olds sometime in 2013, reports The Globe and Mail. On the surface, it sounds like that would create more opportunities arising for youth. It might, with wages for entry-level jobs projected to increase.
“One thing you do see in predictions of longer-run models when you have this demographic bulge moving through and you have fewer young people is that wages will rise for those young people who are entering,” Kevin Milligan, an economist at the University of British Columbia, told the Globe.
But ultimately, with more people leaving the workforce than entering it, the market will grow at a slower rate. It may become tougher for employers to find workers for certain industries, and “pension and health costs will rise at the same time that growth in the tax base slows,” said the Globe.
How can it be fixed? The Globe points to immigration as one solution. It’s an option, but it would be great if we could focus on finding jobs for the struggling Canadians that are already here. If the jobs opening up are not what our youth are trained for, then we should be teaching them to fill those roles.
The shift will hit youth underemployment even harder because people aren’t actually retiring. You can slap the “retiree” label on 55 year olds, but realistically, many of them have no plans to retire anytime soon.
My parents are both within the 55 to 64 range and both of them are working out of necessity – and they’re not alone. A recent survey by Sun Life Financial found that 26 per cent of working Canadians expect they’ll still be working full-time at age 66.
Overall, the Globe takes an approach that favours the elderly worker. Milligan called for companies to be flexible about keeping people on the job past the age of 65. But that really doesn’t help our youth at all. Gen Y may not be the same type of worker that employers are used to, but they’re going to have to adapt eventually. There’s little room for young people when people plan to work until they’re 70 – or older.