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.

Retirement Rythem: Finding Yours

STEREOTYPES AND AGISM

Herbert C. Northcott in the book titled, Aging in Alberta Third Edition said that “A stereotype is an erroneous generalization about a social group, for example, “old people are poor,” or “sick”, or “lonely.”  Such statements imply that all old people are disadvantaged, or at least that the majority are.  While some seniors are disadvantaged, the majority are not.  Nevertheless, there is a tendency to assume that seniors are worse off than they really are.

AGELESS LEARNING

The Plus 50 initiative was featured in the October issue of the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) Bulletin in the article “Ready for Your Second Career?” The article discusses how baby boomers are launching new second careers and profiles boomers who have made the leap.  This is a major new AARP initiative designed to help people explore what’s next in their lives.  The AARP Bulletin ranks in the top tier of the highest circulation publications in the United States and reaches more than 37 million readers.

PLUS 50 TRENDS

A growing number of baby boomers are creating and building their own businesses.  The annual entrepreneurial activity report published by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found the share of new entrepreneurs ages 55 to 64 grew from 14.3% in 1996 to 23.4% last year.  Part of the growth is the result of the overall aging of North America.  But experts say older people are flocking to self-employment because of a frustrating job market and the growing ease and falling cost of starting a business.

An estimated 9 million Americans and 1 million Canadians ages 44 to 70 are engaged in second careers and 31 million Americans and 3 million Canadians are interested in pursuing one.  A survey from the Metlife Foundation and Encore.org shows that within the next 10 years, 25 percent of boomers hope to start a business or nonprofit; and half of these people want to make a difference in the World while earning money.

But even if they don’t get paid, “older adults want to remain connected, relevant, useful and engaged.  There’s this collective feeling of ‘we’re not done yet,’ says Marci Alboher, author of the Encore Career Handbook.

To get started regarding finding your retirement rythem speak with with people in your target field, and volunteer for a place or mentor you admire before you make the leap. “Experimenting in your 50s prepares you psychologically for a new chapter rather than being blindsided if your career ends suddenly or you’re too consumed to think about it,” says Encore.org Founder Marc Freedman.

QUESTION- Mature adults want to find their OWN Retirement Rythem but where do you go for some help?

As I have mentioned many times in previous blog articles, we are currently living in a youth oriented society and as such most Government related resources will be ear marked for the Young Entrepreneurs(18-39) years old.  The 50+ demographic will probably need some funding and new leadership from other interested groups such as angel investors, sponsors and community leaders. 

What’s happening with the two largest seniors groups in North America namely the AARP and CARP?  In Canada CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) most of the resources are dedicated to providing higher quality health care for Canadians and more tax credits for seniors eg. pension income split for seniors.  In essence, the focus is NOT on ‘productive longevity’ to make seniors more active, creative and productive but mainly on getting additional entitlements.

In the USA, Life Reimagined (AARP INITIATIVE) has been created to help you navigate change no matter what situation you find yourself in.  Life Reimagined involves six practices that guide you through change.  Think of it as a personalized guidance system.  Start where you are in your life, and see where the possibilities lead you. i.e.reflect, connect, explore, choose, repak & act. 

For more help in this area go to hash tag reimagine (#reimagine).  This is a Twitter discussion site to tap into your passions, reinvent careers, and create new possibilities.

Briefly, there is another option to help the current or potential 50+ Entrepreneur. There is an organization in Britain that is called Enterprise Nation.  In my own opinion I think that Canada should look at this option seriously to get more of the 50+ demographic involved in their own entrepreneurship project.  Enterprise Nation does networking events, startup classes and expert workshops for small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs. Enterprise Nation also have Professional Training & Coach’s. They are also well know for their ‘Startup Saturday’ event, which I think would be very suitable for potential 50+ entrepreneurs that might still have a daytime corporate job to go to.

Question for the Reader- Do you have any ideas about where the potential 50+ Entrepreneur could meet on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to discuss their OWN Retirement Rythem?  Thanks for reading this blog article!  Comments are very much appreciated.