Innovation and Poverty Reduction Through an Intergenerational Workforce

As a young person developing a career while working towards poverty reduction in London, I am conflicted. I am a millennial, which means that I am interested in London’s ability to attract and retain young people within London’s diverse and vibrant workforce. On the other hand, as a poverty advocate, I also have a keen interest from the heart to advocate for the inclusion and celebration of older workers in the competitive workforce. Not only can older workers provide a great deal of knowledge and skill in the modern workforce, but maintaining a footing in the labour force has become essential for survival for our older colleagues. Comfortable retirement is no longer an option for many.

Early in my work with the LPRC @ King’s, a London Free Pass article was published that looked at the demographics of London’s workforce, and attempted to attribute certain factors to London’s declining employment rate. One of the ideas put forth was that older workers are staying in the workforce longer, which in turn, is not freeing up jobs for the younger workforce. I understand this conclusion made by the LPRC @ King’s and associated scholars. However since, I’ve read the statistics presented throughout seniors month that have been brought forth by our advocates and guest bloggers. I’ve sat down with my friends who are seniors to understand how impossible it is to stretch the small amount of income Canada’s entitlements actually provide. I’ve met friends whose circumstances have led them to have to turn to social assistance as they are unable to meet their basic needs. Older workers are staying in the workforce because they have to, and as a society we need to recognize and support this.

As a community, we need to work towards strategies that promote opportunities to all generations, and work with businesses and organizations to recognize and celebrate the value of an intergenerational workforce. They deserve the opportunities to thrive in the workforce too!

Generation X and Generation Y can take greater initiative in recognizing the imminent crises that are going to happen within our society when seniors needs are not taken care of if they do not have opportunities to gain adequate income. We need to continue to provide age-inclusive workplaces to recognize that there is a great deal of wisdom and skill to be valued in older workers.

What about innovation? The best definition I heard about innovation was not always taking the “out with the old” in favor of what’s “new and hot” attitude but looking at our past, learning from it, and finding the best way to do things going forward.

This is where our older workers can help us. They have the wisdom to prepare the young workers now for the crunch on the economy, health care system, social services and housing that will undoubtedly occur as our Baby Boomers age. The younger workers can work with their mentors to try new solutions using the new skills that have been introduced in their generation. Perhaps there are more innovative solutions to helping older workers transition from the labour force to retirement while still maintaining access to opportunity while having a better income guarantee.

Our generations need to come together and an intergenerational workforce is key to a thriving present and a bright future for Londoners and Canadians of all ages.

I would encourage all to read the blogs that have been posted on the LPRC @ King’s website this month for Seniors Month to become aware of the growing needs of seniors.