CBU’s Dr. Bishakha Mazumdar wasn’t surprised at Statistics Canada’s job vacancy numbers presented in its 2021 report. The report identified labour shortages in many different business sectors across Canada. While people may be quick to place blame on the pandemic, Dr. Mazumdar says an aging population, particularly in the Atlantic region, has been well-documented as a significant factor affecting labour shortages.
“The Nova Scotia economy is vulnerable to a talent shortage, due to a disproportionate increase in the population of people aged 60 and older, combined with a low birthrate,” Dr. Mazumdar explains. “Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Florida have the oldest populations among all states, provinces and territories in North America according to a 2018 report from the Nova Scotia Department of Seniors.”
Dr. Mazumdar is now exploring the potential of mobilizing the workforce aged 50 plus. Her project, Channeling Mature Talents into Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises in Nova Scotia, is examining the factors of supply and demand when it comes to labour in Nova Scotia, with research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Dr. Mazumdar, an Assistant Professor of Management in CBU’s Shannon School of Business, is working closely with CBU colleague and mentor Dr. Kevin McKague, Canada Research Chair in Social Enterprise and Inclusive Markets. She’s also engaging industry partner, Seasoned Pros (formerly Boomers Plus). Seasoned Pros is a national recruiting agency with offices across Canada, working to match mature workers with job opportunities.
Dr. Mazumdar says the research team recognized the need to understand the motivation and sentiment of mature workers by asking them what they are looking for in an occupational experience. “If we are aiming to access the available supply of talent in Nova Scotia, we need to understand the motivation of mature job-seekers, how they want to engage in the workforce, the barriers that may be preventing them from doing so and how we can remove those barriers,” she notes.
In early May, the team launched a survey seeking input from Seasoned Pros more than 4000 members in Nova Scotia. The survey asks whether they seek part-time or full-time, volunteer or paid employment. It also asks about experience or perception of ageism or other stereotyping. It invites respondents to share what training and technology supports they might need to enter or re-enter the labour force. The survey will remain open for approximately two months.
Phase two of the research will involve a second survey among small and medium enterprises in Nova Scotia to inform the demand side of the labour shortage. Dr. Mazumdar will then analyse the data and recommend strategies to effectively mobilize this untapped supply of seasoned workers. “Many employers recognize the value of mature workers for their work ethic, years of experience and leadership skills,” says Dr. Mazumdar. “Many mature workers are not ready to be put on the shelf yet, but rather, are eager to support the economy and feel valued for their contributions.”
Congratulations to Dr. Mazumdar for this important research!