by Murray Scharf
As a result of the increasing longevity and healthy-life period of older adults, the work opportunities and financial needs of older adults have changed significantly. For the cohort of people born in the 1920s, the life expectancy was less than 65 years and for those reaching retirement, the life expectancy was three years for males and eight years for females. Thus, “freedom 55” had some valence.
However, for the current cohort of retirees, those born in the 1950s, the average person was expected to reach 65 and, on average, enjoy 13 years of retirement for males and 17 years for females. The current cohort entering the workforce are expected to live well into their 80s with nearly one quarter living to the age of 100. A ‘Third Age’ has been inserted into our lives. Thus, “Goodbye Freedom 55; Hello Freedom 70+.”
In recognition of this ‘Third Age’, the Saskatoon Council on Aging, in partnership with Radius, Saskatoon YWCA, the Saskatoon Chapter of the Saskatchewan Retired Teachers, and the North Saskatchewan Branch of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, has undertaken The New Horizons: Seniors Encore Career Project. The purpose of the Project is to facilitate the engagement of older adults in the workforce and in entrepreneurial pursuits. The general aim is “to consider ways of redesigning life so that long lives become a gift that is energizing, creative and fun.”
The Encore Careers Project encompassed two stages: an exploratory stage to assess the needs of older adults, and a second stage to explore career transition options. In the exploratory stage, focus groups and individual interviews were held with selected samples of older adults. The focus was on the older adults employed, seeking employment or wishing to enter into entrepreneurial endeavours. In the second stage, the focus was on service agencies and employers. The Project is ongoing with a focus on workshops and the employer dimensions.
It was soon realized that one of the major needs was for the development of a pathways and agencies document that could serve as a road map for individuals and agencies seeking support and services. As a result, the Directory of Service Agencies was developed. This document will be made available through the SCOA website: http://www.scoa.ca/publications.html.