Age discrimination in the workforce has been a common occurrence towards both the old and the young. The former, is considered hard to teach and difficult to stay up-to-date with the latest technology. The latter, are considered to have a lack of loyalty to their place of work and respect for the more mature worker. Of the least acknowledged and most persistent prejudices in Canadian society, ageism is one of the most prevailing.
Our economy has fluctuated so significantly over the past few years, that our aging demographic is taking the blow. Most Canadians 55-64 years old are at the age when one customarily exits work life. More and more they are finding that they can’t. According to Leader-Post, economists say that if the country is to thrive, it must keep older workers on the job past traditional retirement.
And this “need” is not limited to Canada; 14 other countries – including Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany and Ireland – are planning to increase their retirement ages to between 67 and 69 by 2050, according to The Washington Post.
The irony is that this experienced individual is often removed, or segregated, from the workforce because of the occurring prejudices against their age. An articleabout a recent Ipsos Reid survey, conducted exclusively for Postmedia News, said that, “51 per cent of those asked said they thought older workers were more difficult to train on new processes and technology than younger ones.”
Doreen Copeland, 54, who was recently let go from her job after “serving” 30 years of dedicated work in radio, told Leader-Post that she believed her seniority was her undoing.
“With longevity comes a higher salary. And there was always a source of young, eager people who were willing to work for next to nothing,” says Copeland. “They were breaking down the doors.”
So what does this mean? According to The Vancouver Sun, the dilemma is that what looks like prejudice may just be practical judgement about the ability of a worker to do a job, or adapt to change. And it’s true, we can’t prove when a company has implied an age bias, as other factors may very well be involved when hiring or firing.
What’s important is to stay up to date with every day news and changes in the workforce – be it technology or your new supervisor. Steve Shifman, President and CEO of Michelman writes that, “you need to recognize the harsh reality that about one-fifth of what you know, what you do, and how you do it will become useless next year and that you must replace that obsolete knowledge with new and relevant skills, knowledge and experience.”
And how do we do this Steve?
Check out Shifman’s article, 4 Ways to Make Your Careers Last Longer, provided by nextavenue, and find out!
In your mind, at what age do you see yourself retiring?