Boomers: Retirement impacts

April 3, 2011

Pumpjack on Prairies

Stats Canada projects in the next decade about 30% of the Canadian workforce will retire. In my industry alone, oil and gas, it will leave about 40,000 job vacancies. This is without the impact of oil prices and activity levels.

Virtually ever other industry including small business will be impacted by the boomers leaving the workforce. Now it will give younger persons starting out great opportunities, but most of the rookies in the workforce need about ten years to build experience to the levels of those workers leaving. This results in a knowledge gap.

Some of this knowledge gap can be filled by hiring the boomers back as consultants on short term basis. Most boomers don’t want to quite cold-turkey anyway it seems. Many of my friends who have retired out the door ahead of me are back working part time. Great opportunities for all generations it seems.

Suggested Reading:

“Severe labour crunch forecast for oilpatch as workers retire”, by Dino O’Meara, Calgary Herald, March 29, 2011.

“The Decade Ahead 2010-2020”, report by Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, 2009.

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The Boomer Generation

March 11, 2011

When the Second World War (1939 – 1945) ended millions of men returned home to wives and girlfriends most hadn’t seen in years. Guess what happened? Nine months later there began a baby boom the likes of which had never been seen, and hasn’t been seen since. In Canada anyone born between 1947 and 1967 is considered a “baby boomer” or “boomer” for short.

Truly effective birth control, the pill, wasn’t available until the mid 1960’s, so in most cases sex resulted in babies, lots of them. This was not a bad thing, after all these men and women wanted to return to a normal life after six long years of war abroad and on the home front.

Couples wanted to put the war behind them. They wanted marriage and family, and did they ever succeed. Some factoids on the baby boom:

  • During the years 1947 to 1966 in Canada there were over 400,000 babies born each year. The highest year was 1959 with 479,000 born.
  • In the United States during roughly the same period over 4,000,000 were born each year.
  • At the height of the boom Canadian women averaged four offspring each.

I am a “boomer” as are my siblings. We were born in 1949, 1951, and 1955 respectively. Now over sixty years later our generation is beginning to enter our retirement years.

Our generation makes up the largest individual segment of the Canadian population (more than 30%). With retirement comes two key questions for Canadian society,

  • Can the pension plans handle the massive numbers of retirees?
  • Can the expertise lost by industry and government be replaced?

Most boomers are healther and wealthier than previous generations, but the cost of living has skyrocketed. Better health means longer lives and more stress on retirement income sources.

The anticipated retirement of workers from the workforce will mean more opportunity for the younger generations coming into the workforce.

Baby boomers have a tremendous impact on Canadian society and will continue to be a factor for many years to come. Some factoids on the impact of the boomer generation today (stats are from the United States, but are similar here in Canada.):

  • Control over 80% of personal assets
  • Control over 50% of discretionary spending.
  • Account for more than half of consumer spending.
  • Purchase 77% of all prescription drugs.
  • Account for 80% of all leisure travel spending.

Stay tuned for more postings on my experiences as part of the Boomer Generation.


Fifty Years On – One Boomer’s Perspective

March 2, 2010

As a child in the 1950’s I often thought what life would be like fifty years on, especially when the new century started in the year 2000. It seemed so far away. Fifty years seemed a lifetime to a boy of ten. I am over sixty now and I wonder where the years went.

Age was always in the discussion. Why I’d be over fifty in the year 2000. Likely I would be married with children and working to support the family. What I’d be doing or where I’d be living, I had no idea; after all I was only ten years of age.

Some magazines of the time thought everyone would be riding in space cars and robots would be in every home. That sounded kind of neat. Many thought people would be working less and less, perhaps only a few days a week. Experts predicted more leisure time. Earlier retirement seemed a given based on predictions of experts.

The year 2000 is now past. We are ten years into the 21st century. Space cars don’t exist. The cars we drive have computers on-board controlling all the anti-pollution devices. They have global positioning systems (GPS) to help us find the mall. Some have video cameras on the rear to stop the driver from running over Suzie’s bicycle. Almost all have exotic sound systems to bombard us with favorite tunes as we speed down the highways and by-ways. Automobiles still do not have auto-pilot like airplanes. The driver still has to stay alert and awake.

Robots are not commonplace in our homes. The only one I know of is the vacuum that cleans floors by itself. It scoots around by-itself. Builders are wiring homes, so the owners can remotely control appliances and the furnace to cite two examples.

They are common in manufacturing plants. Robots even build cars in the new century.

In the working-world people work longer hours each day and more hours per week. People delay retirement longer and longer in this century. It seems many of us are fated to die at our desks.

There are so many “baby boomers” approaching old age and retirement that medical systems and pension plans are beginning to stress out. “Baby boomers” or “boomers” are the generation of children born post-Second World War, in the late 1940’s and the 1950’s. We make up the largest segment of the population. The boomers toiled all our working lives, paid taxes, and contributed to pension plans, but now governments deem us a liability. It is not fair. Society should have planned for this day.

The retirement of older workers will create opportunities for younger generations. On the downside knowledge will be lost with the death and retirement of the boomers. More on this issue to follow.


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