Aging Populations Are Going To Create New Problems For Employers

Finding well-qualified applicants is going to become harder than ever pretty soon.  The oldest Baby Boomers turned 79 in 2021.  More than one in five working adults is now nearing retirement.

In 1966, there were 200 people aged 15 to 24 for every 100 Canadians aged 55 to 64.  Now, there were only 81 people in that age group for every 100 Canadians aged 55 to 64.

The working-age population (people aged 15 to 64) is older than it has ever been.  There’s a now a larger proportion of people aged 55 to 64 than those aged 15 to 24, the age at which people start working, according to new census figures.

At the end of 2021 Canada had almost a million vacant jobs available.  Vacancies were highest in accommodation and food services, followed by health care and social assistance, and then retail.


What does this mean for employers?


1. The first obvious answer is: a shortage of applicants and increased competition for the ones that are available. It’s also going to get worse before it gets better. The Great Resignation is real and happening now. Canadian companies are collectively scrambling to fill 915,000 job vacancies, 80% more than in 2019. People are putting a greater focus on well-being, health, and family, and reconsidering how and why they work.

2. The second problem will be coaching and developing existing employees to fill vacancies left due to retirement and attrition. How many of your younger employees are ready to take on supervisory or managerial positions? What skills and abilities are they lacking and how do you plan to provide them with the tools they need for their and the organization’s success? If you haven’t yet begun strategizing for this, you’re soon going to wish that you had.

3. Finally, it is becoming a ‘buyer’s market’ in which applicants can afford to be choosy and to look carefully at the remuneration and benefits being offered. What are you offering that gives you an edge over your competition? Hint: Increased pay won’t cut it. “The consensus in social psychology is that monetary incentives for performance have a detrimental impact on individual performance.”

Employer concerns about the overall lack of applicants, the lack of suitable and qualified applicants and complaints about high turnover have increased steadily over the past 5 years.  It’s a conversation that I now have with clients on a weekly basis, and it’s occurring continent-wide, and across all industries.

This trend is worrisome and ‘expert’ opinions about how to address it abound online.  There are no easy answers or magic bullets to turn to, and what works for some will not work for others.  There are still, however, some tried and true solutions available.  No matter what the economy is doing or how societal attitudes shift, the basics change very little.

Using well-designed, reliable assessment tools will still give employers the advantage and information they need to succeed.  Hard skills, soft skills, work ethic, tenure attitudes, core abilities and developmental needs are all things that good tests can identify.  As this new reality emerges, retaining talent and avoiding other people’s rejects will become more important than ever.

Let’s look at only item No. 2 above – developing existing talent to be able to assume greater responsibility and assume roles left vacant by retirees.  There are a cornucopia of readily available solutions that employers can tap into for this.

Some of these assessments are designed to identify those who are ready to move into leadership positions and some will identify those with the skills to succeed in managerial roles, whereas others will produce finely detailed reports that help individuals and employers identify where deficits and developmental opportunities exist.  Some of the tools that are available include:

  • The Career Advancement Profile, which evaluates how prepared a person is for advancement in his or her career.  It provides information on whether an employee has the attitude, traits, and behaviors needed to move up the ladder.
  • The Career Development Report For Individual Contributors produces a Career Development Report for employee professional growth and development. Supervisors can use it as a tool for coaching purposes.  There’s also a version designed for people already in leadership positions.
  • The Leadership Development Report is a powerful, objective assessment that provides insight into leaders’ work-oriented personality, and helps them to increase their overall  effectiveness.
  • The Leadership Potential Assessment will determine whether a person possesses the personality traits that characterize good leaders, and evaluates the type of techniques he or she would utilize if given a leadership position.
  • The Leadership Skills Inventory is a powerful 20-page self-administered and self-scored leadership evaluation, coaching, learning, and development tool.  There’s also a 360-degree version available.
  • The Leadership Unlimited Profile is an eye-opening workshop tool that helps managers and leaders spot the early warning signs of leadership derailment. With this tool, you can see how to limit those behaviors, and learn how to take control of their development before it’s too late.
  • The Management Effectiveness Profile System (MEPS) is a powerful 360-degree assessment that not only compares managers’ opinions of their skills with the opinions of the people working with them; it also compares their abilities with a database of more than 5,000 other managers.
  • The Management Skills and Styles Assessment is an in-depth assessment that evaluates a person’s managerial potential. This all-encompassing test covers over 60 competencies, traits, and skills.
  • The Managerial Personal Style Assessment offers 3 different assessments for identifying people who have the mental ability to learn quickly, handle a large information load, process information quickly, and make decisions based on complex information. In addition, the test helps you identify people who have the leadership qualities necessary to direct the work of others, make decisions efficiently, stay on top of his/her department, motivate employees, focus on productivity indices, handle customers well, live up to their obligations, and work hard.  The MPSA-III includes a Career Development Report.
  • The Supervisor Test will help you identify people who are comfortable in a supervisory role directing the work of others, will maintain a good flow of information, stay on top of delegated assignments, be stable and dependable, adaptable to change and interested in new learning, sets a good role model for working hard, and good candidates who are smart so that they can handle a lot of information, make logical decisions using complex information, and interface well with other managers.
  • The Supervisory Skills Test measures the respondent’s understanding of management and supervisory principles, practices and behaviors. A total of twelve crucial management and supervisory skill dimensions are evaluated.

These are just some of the solutions available.  There are many more designed for pre-screening and onboarding.

You may not be able to control the world or cultural trends, but you certainly can control your own world, who enters it and who can help make it successful for everyone involved.

If you’re struggling to find ways to get people ready to step up to new positions and responsibilities or need to ensure that the right people are getting hired or promoted, then assessments offer you a wide variety of ways to identify the best candidates and help you identify problems and take action before they become headaches.


David Towler is President of Creative Organizational Design, a firm offering nearly 40 years of expertise specializing in employee assessments and which has over 2000 different product titles available. Creative Organizational Design has 100s of assessment tools designed to help employers screen out other people’s rejects, assess skills, aptitude, attitude and ‘fit’ within an organization. For more information about the options available and help selecting the best tools for your needs please contact us.  Please send comments about this article to

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