Canada: Redefining Skills Training For An Ageing Demographic: Higher Education Policy And Vocational Guidance

Last Updated: April 24 2017
Article by Harris Rosen

"I think there's a world market for maybe five computers." –  Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

"Status Quo. Latin for the mess we're in." – Jeve Moorman

I confess that I never paid much attention to those retirement commercials. You know the ones with a distinguished silver-haired white male effortlessly swinging his golf club, or sitting on his yacht in some exotic location? Nor did I pay much attention to those AARP ads. After all, I was not "old" and I was never going to get old, if I could help it. And I'm a Canadian so why would AARP matter. I've played a decent and even competitive game of tennis for most of my natural life. And my wife and I are both conservative lawyers with carefully conceived tax and estate plans. We're doing just fine.

Then I turned 50 and the doctor (who I'll refer to as Dr. Smart E. Pants) said "I've got some bad news Harris. You might live another 50 years. If you do, you are going to be a taxpayer for at least another 50. Your life insurance premiums are going to go sky high, because the bean counters are involved and someone's got to pay for the upside down pyramid." "What pyramid?", I asked. And the doctor replied "the pyramid of increasingly older people with health issues to support, and fewer younger people to support them." The doctor mentioned in passing that I'd also have some nutritional challenges too, and that I might need considerably more medication to ensure that I live to a ripe old age—oh yes, and some home care—assuming I could find someone available? 

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Adler, the Founder of GEN4. Mr. Adler had the distinction of being a Federal Member of Parliament under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, wherein he served on the Prime Minister's Finance Committee. This, before consulting on issues of age demographics. Just as I have dedicated my legal career to private post-secondary education (referred to as higher education in the United States), Mr. Adler has seemingly dedicated his consulting career to the demographics and policies relating to ageing. "Ageing and longevity are the biggest issues of our time", he told me. "Canadians are ageing and thanks to advancements in medicine, live longer", he added. "Funny you say that Mark, because Dr. Smart E. Pants told me the same thing". I realized that not only he could really make a difference in shaping this country, but that his was the flip side of the same demographic "coin" as the one I was looking at every day. He realized what many Canadian leaders currently do not: those who do not respond to changing demographics will do so to their own detriment.

Age demographics affect every aspect of our lives, from the suitability of jobs or careers, to how products are made and sold. And of course, the already strained health care system on both sides of the border remains the single largest concern when talking about age demographics.

As I began to think about it, everything made perfect sense. Thinking back to my own experience growing up and the world my own children will face, gave me pause. When I was in grade school, parents always asked "what do you want to be when you grow up"? Today, that is the wrong question to ask, and I am in no way derogating from the proposition that people should follow their passions. However, I suggest that the right question for people of all ages is "where is the labour market demand for my expertise?".

Reading, writing, and math were and are important from the earliest stages of learning. Then along came coding. More than two dozen countries made this a mandatory part of their curriculum long before it appeared on my child's radar screen in my home town of Toronto—North America's fourth largest city, and a wealthy city at that. I linked our provincial government in Ontario, Canada to Hubris: we are all supposedly real estate "rich" and everyone wants to live here, so why should we care about coding and demographic change? "Really, Ontario? Stop building outdated, protectionist, regulatory walls around the vocational training sector. Focus on demographics and innovation. Or we will languish (housing bubble or no housing bubble).

CANADA

By 2021, 17.8 percent of Canadians, or about 7 million people, will be over 65. By 2041, that number is expected to jump to 9.7 million, or 22.6 per cent. This fact was highlighted by Michael Gazer in an excellent article in the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/michael-gazer/aging-population-canada_b_11680292.html. More recent, government backed statistics reinforce this. The Gazer article highlighted the profound changes we will have to make to accommodate health and mobility issues, and the need for home care. My focus is on the re-training, and re-skilling of those once considered "disposable" or past their prime-- and the dynamic versus static labour market. 

Back to Dr. Smart E. Pants. "It's a good thing that we don't have a health care problem the way the US struggles with Obama Care versus whatever the 45th President of the United States decides to now do", I proclaimed."Sit down Mr. Rosen, maybe you need another kind of doctor after making that kind of statement!", he said. He ran a series of tests and noted that the professional I was about to see would be charging me a premium above our government sponsored Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan. "You see Harris, the Ontario government spends more than 60% of your provincial tax dollars on health care, and there are not enough little Harris' around to support big Harris. "But I already pay very high taxes here in Ontario, and I'm supposed to get free health care", I exclaimed. Dr. Smart E. Pants simply said this in response: "you obviously haven't studied Milton Friedman, look him up."

UNITED STATES

As of January 2016, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group's share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent, according to Population Reference Bureau: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Media-Guides/2016/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet.aspx

The same source cited the following points, in brief:

1.  An ageing population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse and non-Hispanic whites are projected to drop by 24 percentage points, from 78.3 percent to 54.6% between now and 2060;

2. The changing racial/ethnic composition of the population under age 18, relative to those aged 65 and older, has created a "diversity gap" between generations.

3. Older adults are working longer. By 2014, 23 percent of men and about 15 percent of women ages 65 and older were in the labor force, and these levels are projected to rise further by 2022, to 27 percent for men and 20 percent for women.

4. Many parts of the country—especially counties in the rural Midwest—are "ageing in place" because disproportionate shares of young people have moved elsewhere.

The same source notes that life expectancy is now almost 80 years old, on average, up from 68 years of age in 1950. 

This is all reinforced by the AARP which states that 

"From 2010 to 2060, the age 85-plus population will more than triple (+260%), the fastest growth of any age group over that time period. This demographic phenomenon will have a significant impact on every aspect of our society, ranging from our health care system to the economy. People age 85-plus are the group most likely to need long-term services and supports to help them with everyday tasks." : http://blog.aarp.org/tag/demographics/

Changing demographics relating to ethnicity and race also demonstrate the need for education programs which bridge language and cultural barriers: in an emergency room setting, for example, the ability to communicate can literally mean life or death. 

MOVING FORWARD WITH A LABOUR MARKET STRATEGY

It has been said that a nation is only as strong as its able-bodied workforce. While it is true that both Canada and the United States should strive to have an able bodied workforce and that immigration policies are highly germane to this reality, we must also strive to do the following: 

1. Rethink retirement and especially "retirement age". We should replace the antiquated notion of putting people out to pasture, with that of "dynamic re-skilling". 

2. Socially innovate to maximize the potential of all age demographics, including those who are 50 or older: I can teach you very little about innovation. But Andrew Hargadon can: http://andrewhargadon.com/ He was one of the pioneers at Apple and is the Charles J. Soderquist Chair in Entrepreneurship at University of California, Davis. It was a treat to hear him talk recently about innovation. I urge you to visit his website to understand what "innovation" really is, but his biography says it all:

"Some people are called creatures of habit; I am and I suspect always have been a creature of change."

My point about innovation is that we must think of ageing and labour market demographics as we think of climate change: understand where we will be in five years, ten years, and twenty-five years, and create new products and services for those changing markets. Do so by building on high quality existing innovations: a bicycle is a mere extension of the wheel; a car is an extension of a bicycle. And so on. This is why I've made reference to Mr. Hargadon. He is remarkably pointed about how innovation happens. And he is right. 

3. Create a relevant workforce that spans all ages. If the 45th President of the United States honours his commitment to build out the vocational training sector as I suspect and hope that he and his administration will, a number of positive things should come out of this. First, the United States will have a much more relevant work force, equipped for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Secondly, there will be a restoration of dignity in the American workforce if the US is also focused on reskilling and retraining those who are 50 plus. Thirdly, there will be consumer confidence which flows from America's ability to export American made goods (although the strength of the US dollar is a challenge, does compromise its ability to do so, and is something expressly recognized by President Trump recently). Finally, innovation does flow from consumer and industrial confidence.

As for Canada, we have dangerous levels of consumer debt, and which are frankly much higher per capita than our neighbours south of the border. The United States had record consumer debt pre-2009, before "NINJA" mortgages were made scarce. A fund manager at a large Canadian bank recently explained to me that the Canadian problem is a little different than the fraud and NINJA mortgage issues we saw in the United States not long ago. Interest rates in Canada are dangerously low, such that a modest increase of less than 50 basis points would put a home out of the reach of many Canadians. We too need to furiously focus on relevant job skills which are consistent with our ageing demographic, and which by definition evolve the way an iPhone does. Pharmacy Technician 7.0 might look very different from Pharmacy Technician 2.0, because of the degree of automation at each step in one's training, as well as the medical advancements themselves. So might transport training, denturism, nursing, and most other vocations, look very different "tomorrow". 

I have always been a proud Canadian but we as Canadians are failing because we are ignoring our own reality.

I'm no Andrew Hargadon and likely will never be. However, there are two words that Canada and the United States should be focused on which to me are tantamount to social innovation, and which both countries are failing miserably at: vocational guidance. 

(I am indebted to Alan Wolfish Q.C. my long-time colleague and co-author of the Annotated Private Career Colleges Act, 2005, as well as to Mark Adler, for their careful and thoughtful input into this piece).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions