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“It’s a sectoral phenomenon”

Region preparing for growing number at retirement-eligible employees

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

The next few years could see a nearly 20 per cent shift in employment at the Region of Durham.

According to a report tabled at a meeting of the regional finance and administration committee, 17 per cent – or more than 750 people – of the region’s workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next four years.

Just under half of those employees – 355 – work in the region’s social services division.

Matthew Gaskell, the region’s commissioner of corporate services, tells The Oshawa Express that the biggest downfall from the potential loss of so many employees is the know-how that is gained after years on the job.

“The concern…is not as much financial as it is the impact of all that institutional knowledge walking out the door,” Gaskell says.

“The point of the report was the emphasize how important it is to prepare the next generation to be able to step in to…greater positions of responsibility in order to keep the region delivering the services that it delivers to the public.”

The region is far from the only employer that could be hard hit as more and more baby boomers reach their retirement years. According to a 2014 report from the Royal Bank of Canada, the participation in employment rate for the country has been in decline since 2011, with more and more baby boomers leaving the work force.

“The phenomenon we’re facing is not just hitting the Region of Durham. It’s a sectoral phenomenon,” Gaskell says.

“So, really, most of the municipal sector is facing it because of the boomers reaching retirement age.”

Gaskell says the region is working to prevent any potential slowdowns by ensuring institutional knowledge is properly passed on to future workers, rather than leaving the building when the employee does.

“We don’t want an employee that has all the functions of their job up in their head, but that we have it all written down and we have the process mapped and encoded in policy so that succeeding employees will know what to do,” he says.