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Experienced workers' tapped to fill labour shortage

Wednesday, October 1, 2003 - 00:00

When John Mackay retired after more than 35 years in the fire protection sprinkler business, the end of work was nowhere in sight.

"The last thing I wanted to do was sit around and vegetate," he says.

As a result, Mr. Mackay began working as a member of the turf crew at Greenhills Golf and Country Club four years ago and remains an employee there today.

Businesses can expect to experience a severe shortage of workers within the next 10 years, according to Deb Mountenay, chairperson of the Experienced Worker Initiative in London.

"We started out taking a look at what types of work were being done to address the upcoming shortage of workers in other jurisdictions within the provincial, federal and international levels. We liked what was happening at the local level. Quite a few employees had retired, then re-entered the workforce."

Experienced workers - employees who are older and at a retirement age, like Mr. Mackay - will be necessary to fill the void, she says. "The number of people retiring in the near future far outweighs the number of people coming into the workforce. We all knew the baby boomer generation would be retiring, but it always seemed a way off. Now it has become much closer."

"It's not as simple as it used to be. The pool of people is no longer there."

Making work hours flexible, reworking job titles and responsibilities and keeping positions accessible and attractive to experienced workers will be important to employers, she adds.

The benefits of hiring retired or experienced workers are evident, according to Craig McCutcheon, superintendent at Greenhills Golf and Country Club.

Mr. McCutcheon is responsible for hiring groundskeepers for the club's golf course and says hiring retired workers has been incredibly beneficial.

"We hire as many, if not more, retired workers as we do students. There are many reasons, most importantly because they are reliable and responsible workers. We rely on them to guide our younger workers and set good examples in their jobs."

The course currently employs 14 retirees and 10 students.

Mr. McCutcheon adds that the retired workers are available for the entire golf season from April to November, a time when students may still be in school or preparing to return.

Spending the early morning on a lawn mower from Monday to Friday hardly seems like work to Mr. Mackay. It's more of a hobby, he says.

"We're hoping retired workers will find a job they are interested in or have always wanted to do and come back to the work force," Ms. Mountenay says.

The Experienced Worker Initiative includes a 30 minute presentation that will be shown to local businesses this month.

The presentation highlights workers like Mr. Mackay who have returned to the workforce and the benefits seen by both the businesses and individuals involved.

The initiative is funded by Human Resources Development Canada.. Partners include the London Economic Development Corp., Over 55, The Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford Local Training Board, Goodwill's Career Centre, Fanshawe College, Human Resource Professionals of London and District and the Employment Sector Council of London and Middlesex, all of which will receive a copy of the presentation.

Source: The Londoner, October 1, 2003:
"'Experienced workers' tapped to fill labour shortage" By JULIE BELL The Londoner.

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