Technical Corner

Where Have All the Workers Gone?

July 25, 2022

ORFA members continually raise the fact that they are struggling to find staff. This challenge is far from being an industry problem as almost all other businesses have a similar post pandemic situation. Demographic shifts are changing the face of the working-age population, which is becoming more educated and diverse. In addition, young generations may have different values and expectations from those of their predecessors, such as work–life-leisure time balance, and job flexibility. To be direct, working shift work and when everyone else is having fun is not attractive to workers regardless of compensation as many employers contemplate a 4-day work week where an employee can work from home. In the midst of high job vacancies and historically low unemployment, Canada faces record retirements from an aging labour force: number of seniors aged 65 and older grows six times faster than children 0-14.

The working-age population, persons aged 15 to 64 who produce the bulk of goods and services in the Canadian economy, has reached a turning point. Never before has the number of people nearing retirement been so high. More than 1 in 5 (21.8%) persons of working age are aged 55 to 64. This is an all-time high in the history of Canadian censuses and one of the factors behind the labour shortages facing some industries across the country. The aging of many baby boom cohorts, the youngest of whom are between 56 and 64 years today, is accelerating population aging in general.

Canada's working-age population has never been older. More than 1 in 5 persons (21.8%) are close to retirement age (between 55 and 64 years), an all-time high in the history of Canadian censuses. The aging of many baby boomer cohorts, the youngest of whom are between 56 and 64 years today, is accelerating population aging. There are challenges associated with an older workforce, including knowledge transfer, retaining experienced employees, and workforce renewal.

The baby boomer generation, comprising people aged 56 to 75, continues to be the largest in Canada, despite the fact that they are aging. The 2021 Census counted 9,212,640 baby boomers. However, the demographic weight of baby boomers in the overall population is declining. For the first time, in 2021, this generation accounted for less than one-quarter (24.9%) of the Canadian population. By comparison, they represented more than two in five Canadians (41.7%) in 1966, at the end of the baby boom period in Canada (1946 to 1965). Younger generations, such as millennials and Generation Z, are more educated and diverse than previous generations. These generations, who are still young, are more exposed to ethnocultural, religious and gender diversity and have grown up in an interconnected technological world that has a significant impact on their values and lifestyles. These generations now make up a considerable share of the working-age population, leading to changes in the overall labour market.

Recreation was once a simple work environment.  However, it has grown to become highly advanced in equipment, technology, and administrative responsibilities. ORFA is striving to assist members by providing strong education and accreditation pathways to meet these challenges.  However, there is work to be done to attract and retain the skilled labour pool we require to succeed.


Comments and/or Questions may be directed to Terry Piche, CRFP, CIT and Technical Director, Ontario Recreation Facilities Association

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