By 2036, according to Census Canada projections, over half of the population of Quebec will be above the age of 45. This changing dynamic in the labour force poses new challenges but we believe it also poses some unique opportunities. For example, 40% of workers aged 45 and over living in the Greater Montreal Area are bilingual. Nearly 50% of respondents to a recent CEDEC employability survey earned a university degree.
Since 2009, CEDEC has been studying the unique needs and challenges of unemployed and underemployed English-speaking Quebecers aged 45 and older. The studies were part of CEDEC’s Mature Workers Initiative that aims to successfully reintegrate English-speaking mature workers into Quebec’s labour market. In 2011, CEDEC released the Mature Workers Employability Report, which outlined the perceived challenges of nearly 700 mature workers throughout the Greater Montreal Area. In the next phase, CEDEC surveyed employers, recruitment agencies and employment service providers to understand their perspectives on the opportunities or challenges associated with hiring a mature worker.
The survey findings among most employers suggest that mature workers maintain a positive reputation in the workforce. For instance, employers perceive older workers as generally stable, productive, committed, responsible, and highly motivated with strong work ethics. Nonetheless, these workers seem to have difficulty finding employment; they experience various levels of prejudice (ageism) when looking for work and are keenly aware that they are being discriminated against as a result of their age. The stakeholders surveyed mentioned several critical factors affecting English-speaking mature workers’ capacity to find employment. These include a lack of French language skills, unrealistic salary expectations, lack of technological (mostly computer) skills, a resistance to change and unwillingness to work long hours or overtime. In addition to these perceptions, many programs and initiatives such as “diversity training with a focus on intergenerational conflict” may be relevant to mature workers, but are not necessarily being offered by the majority of employers.
The detailed findings of these surveys along with strategic recommendations are presented in the report entitled: “Employment Practices and Employability of the Hidden Talent Pool: The Mature Workers.”