I thought we should put our eggs in the basket of experienced workers. That their permanence in the labor market would greatly alleviate the labor shortage. That the “old guys” would save the economy, or almost.
Posted at 6:30 am
I was disappointed when I read the very illuminating study on the issue from the Institut du Québec (IDQ). Its authors, Emna Braham and Simon Savard, believe that this task force certainly needs to be taken care of, but according to their calculations, the potential is limited.
In the first place, they explain, it is an illusion to think that many retirees would return to the labor market, even with generous incentives. After reviewing the studies on the subject, they find that “success in convincing people to return to work is very limited.”
Next, steps to retain experienced workers who are still active would not have as big an impact as one might imagine. Why ? Because in 10 years, this pool of workers will be greatly diminished, with the aging baby boomers and the arrival of a smaller generation X.
Currently, the proportion of workers aged 60 to 69 who are active in the labor market is 39.1% in Quebec, a much lower level than in other parts of the world. Assuming we reach Ontario’s participation rate in 10 years (46.3%), which is realistic, only 37,000 people would be added to the labor market in Quebec.
This volume is not negligible, far from it, but you should know that there are 255,000 people missing to fill the current vacancies in Quebec, including approximately 100,000 with a post-secondary diploma.
The increase in experienced workers is due, among other things, to the fact that this gap with Ontario, if filled instantly today, would add 86,000 workers. But this volume would drop to 37,000 within 10 years, with the departure of the boomers.
During the election campaign, three of the five parties – but not the CAQ – promised to further reduce taxes on experienced workers to encourage them to stay in the labor market and thus fill part of the shortage.
According to the IDQ, financial measures, while commendable, end up being costly when reduced per employee retained. The reason ? The funds are being paid even to those who would have stayed on the job anyway.
The career extension tax credit, of a maximum of $1,650 for those over 65 years of age, is gradually reduced starting at $35,650 in income and is completely extinguished at $68,650. The credit between ages 60 and 64 is $1,500 and follows the same type of regression.
“If they allow to increase the reserve of available workers, the measures [actuelles] they are not the best tool to retain the most qualified workers”, argues the IDQ, in particular because their income makes them inaccessible to credit.
According to the IDQ, the recovery of the activity rate of experienced workers, although essential, is only one of the levers to satisfy the labor market. Automation, the reorganization of work, particularly in the public sector, increased productivity and immigration are other elements of the puzzle.
“It’s not just a question of numbers, but also the judicious use of the skills of those who remain and the transfer of skills,” explains Emna Braham, director general of the Institut du Québec.
Another element: before attracting investment to Québec, we must think about the labor shortage, depending on the sector. An IT specialist hired by a new foreign company is an IT specialist less for the public sector and existing companies.
However, some measures may be more effective than others in retaining experienced employees. And not always the most spectacular.
First, experienced workers need better support to balance work and family. At this age, many are caregivers, especially women, caring for elderly parents, whose number will skyrocket in the years to come. A better adapted health system would help keep “kids” aged 55 and over in work.
On the other hand, experienced workers need training to keep up with new developments, particularly in technology. The government could increase incentives for in-company training for people aged 50 and over. Self-directed training could also be encouraged.
Eliminate age discrimination
Another element: adapted working conditions would help, combining a shorter week, longer holidays and flexible holidays. The public sector, in particular, should reflect on this issue when renewing collective agreements.
Finally, the study also addresses the issue of age discrimination, this age-based discrimination that employers, and other employees, would benefit from eliminating.
In short, relying on experienced workers is one of the solutions, but it is not THE panacea. And governments should now target workers aged 40-49 with their procedures, before the decision to retire has been made.
Lots of work ahead…