The Grandeur of Old Age

Harsh New Reality

In Vancouver, B.C. Canada, the YWCA is receiving 40 applications for every 12 spots in a new program designed for men and women over 55 who want to get back into the workforce.  The average age of participants is 62.

“We’ve had people who haven’t been able to pay their rent or are living at a relative’s or a friend’s couch,” YWCA career adviser Lynda McFee said. “There’s such a need out there with mature workers.”

Participants in the Job Options Older Workers Program may have retired a few years ago, but found they are going through their pensions too quickly, McFee said.  Others are not yet collecting their (CPP) Canada Pension Plan and are desperate for income.  Many have had health issues or stopped work to care for aging parents, and now face job hunting not only as senior, but also with a gap in employment,  Many are single, confused and don’t know what the future holds for them.  The golden age is not so golden after all for many seniors facing retirement hardships.

Gap In Employment

Personally speaking, I realized how important a gap in employment is to potential employers.  The average waiting time for seniors looking for part-time or full-time work is approaching 2 years and more.  My own unemployment lasted several years when eventually I became permanently unemployed with no hope of getting any kind of corporate job.  I was forced to create my own employment which led me to the Encore Stage of my Second Act.

Waiting For The Revolution To Come

David Hurdon is one of the growing number of Canadians who can’t wait, “I need to work,” he says.  Hurdon left his last full-time “formal” job as vice-president of retailing at winemaker Kittling Ridge at age 54.  That was 10 years ago, and since then he has been self-employed and never earned enough to set aside a retirement nest egg. 

When David heard about a job fair run by CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons)-a group representing older Canadians; that is specifically aimed at people trying to get back into the workforce.  David was optimistic about finding a good job.

Lisa Taylor says he has every right to be optimistic.  Taylor is president of The Challenge Factory and is an activist promoting a transformation of the Canadian workforce. “The concept of continuing to work in your sixties and seventies is a fairly new construct,” says Taylor after giving a pep talk to an audience of some 200 elders at the event.

Where Is The Beef? (Meaningful Jobs For Seniors 50 Plus)

The problem is that most of the jobs being offered to highly skilled mature workers right now just aren’t that attractive or meaningful.

About 600 people attended CARP’s elder job fair, billed as “work re-imagined,” for example.  But the jobs on offer were not the kinds of things the people were hoping for, said Lisa Taylor.  Lisa saw David Hurdon slumped in a chair looking discouraged; having been offered minimum-wage and volunteer jobs.  There was Mary Kay and Avon, and many less-well-known products to sell door to door or to friends.  There were franchises that required an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

There were agencies like the Third Quarter trying to help you find jobs.  Angelina Hamangoda is a lawyer who has worked around the world.  Her last job before becoming unemployed was part-time at an after-school daycare, and she could find nothing at the CARP event.  “I feel very frustrated right now,” Angelina said at the CARP event. “I think all my education is down the drain.”

Open Message To CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons):

I think that there is hope and possible solutions to help the Canadian seniors 50+ transition to a comfortable pre-retirement or retirement life.  At the present time CARP’s strength is basically advocating for more entitlements from the Federal Government.  However; Canada and many other counties are shifting their resources to help seniors 50+ create their own job or small business.  Currently there is a 50+ entrepreneur movement happening around the World that promotes productive longevity vis-a-vis the present passive retirement, more closely related to a leisure retirement and sponging more entitlements from the government.

When we hear of stories such as David’s and Angelina’s given above you would think that alarm bells would be heard by large organizations such as CARP for example.  I personally think that we need a round table discussion group organized by CARP.  At the same time let’s have the seniors themselves create and organize local community coffee meetings which would provide real information from the grassroots.

I’m assuming that CARP is knowledgeable about what is going on in the USA  on this specific subject. Recently I listened to a live conference through the Internet based in Washington.  The US Senate Hearings were discussing the topic of ‘Senior Entrepreneurship’.  The partners that participated in these hearings were AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), S.C.O.R.E. (USA Retired Executives) providing mentor ship to potential entrepreneurs and small business owners, the SBA (Small Business Administration) and other ‘senior entrepreneurship’ experts.  There is an urgent need to discuss and implement ways to help seniors 50+ hands-on individually (not going to some useless job fair). Instead of the David’s and Angelina’s of Canada being frustrated and confused we need to develop some suitable community based programs, that would improve the quality of life for ALL seniors and necessarily make them more active, creative, productive and prosperous. The seniors deserve to have some meaningful and important work or even working as an entrepreneur or small business owner in their Second or Third act.

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One thought on “The Grandeur of Old Age

  1. dana says:

    Thanks for this post. Sounds good but as you mention discouraging. We are not part of the big picture and I feel excluded from the list of potential employer with companies. The concept of entrepreneur is a niche, not a solution to the problem. I think this is so wrong, we do not need an escape rout, we need to be part of the organization. At 50 plus we can be taxpayers and we can work. We can be in position were our millennia, generation Y and X still need directions, support, collaboration, I can say sometime “brakes” or the stop at 4 way, for a long lasting solution. We at 50 plus must be considered like a MUST in the corporate environment for the look ahead or up. I was there, and my Father, my Mother, my Managers or Professionals within the company where my “role model”. Sure, I know more that they did, I absorbed and observed faster, I teach them computers and how to use them, but this did not give me the right to exclude them from the picture of the organization. We teach each other in the workplace what we could, but above all, was the value of business and growth of the company.It is important for any organization to have a variety of members, within the workplace. .

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