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  • Bruce Malcom

Do the Math

2020 = 250,000

According to Statistics Canada, nearly 5,000 baby boomers are retiring, each week in Canada.  Yes, 5000 a week!


 Do the math … that is more than 250,000 retirements projected for 2020 — it’s as if the entire population of Markham Ontario left the workforce… it represents an upsurge of 52% from just 20 years ago.


What was once referred to as the ‘baby boom’ has now become a retirement explosion! Over the next six to seven years, the number of retirements will reach 285,000 annually. This ‘changing of the guard’ is going to transform our municipalities… even more than it already has! The implications are widespread for towns and cities — especially when you consider how tight Canada’s labour market is already.


By applying some new thinking, you can prevent this looming retirement crunch from becoming a crisis in your municipality.


This loss of the boomer cohort — those highly knowledgeable CAOs Directors and Managers with decades of experience — only accelerates the urgency of recruiting. A recent economic report put out by the OCC, found that 49% of their members said they’re having trouble attracting and retaining staff who have the skills they’re seeking.

 To close this gap, we’ll have to find new ways to prepare recent graduates for the new economy, equip existing workers with even higher skills and change the way recruit … just posting a job on some web site – no matter how good the posting or the site, just won’t ‘cut it’,  in 2020.


There’s also a significant opportunity to re-think our municipal offices and at the same time, keep some of the cross generational talent that makes municipalities thrive. A recent poll found the majority of working baby boomers would opt for semi-retirement – I am aware that many municipalities are already doing this in one form or another … it has helped to forestall some of the challenges  … until now! Many towns and cities are already appealing to younger employees. Now that millennials represent the largest generation in the nation’s labour force, employers are competing in a tight market for this young talent. Flexible work policies are a rising demand many municipalities are rushing to meet, as millennial employees seek greater freedom and work-life balance. A similar approach around semi-retirement could keep retain older workers, and the established know-how they provide. 


Municipalities don’t have a corner on this increase in retirements. In fact, every organization and sector are seeing an increase, but the trend is hitting some harder than others. It’s highest where the workforce tends to be older, including office management and administration roles, roads crews and public works staff  delivery people, along with principals and administrators in our schools.


We know from our own Ravenhill Smith research some of these positions are more problematic than others. Replacing retirees who work in areas like administration, finance, and public works are more likely to face shortages.


No matter whether it’s municipal or the private sector, the challenge is to become more competitive even as we lose these established workers. Immigration could help grow the municipal talent pool. We welcomed more than 300,000 new immigrants in 2018, about 60% of whom are skilled workers. But, even if one of these new Canadians  is appropriate for your town or city it still doesn’t cover the annual retirement rate, so we’re going to have to get more creative.


For the past 13 years we have been corporate sponsors/ members of CAMA, Canada’s premier association for CAOs, with its 500+ members. Across the country we actively sponsor UBCM, AUMA AAMDC, SUMA, ROMA, AMO and many others- investing thousands of dollars on your behalf. 


Ravenhill Smith knows municipal talent …and municipal talent knows Ravenhill Smith

It will take our kind of genuine knowledge of municipal professionals to help fill the void Ravenhill Smith brings that “genuine” knowledge to your search. And, we back up everything we say and do with our quality guarantee.   


Call me today… Philip J.W. Smith  Senior Partner 1-888-447-5910 ext. 714   

As Senior Partner, Phil advises municipalities across Canada, providing insights gained in his travels across the country and his work with some of Canada’s leading organizations. His work focuses on leadership change and innovation, examining how to successfully navigate the changes in the public landscape so more people can thrive in ever changing municipal scene. Prior to joining Ravenhill Smith, Phil spent nearly 20 years developing his search skills in the corporate, public and not for profit sector.

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