Researchers study programs to help older workers

Two York University researchers are embarking on a study to examine innovative programs and services that assist older workers to transition into new employment.

The research project, which includes a large survey and focus groups in locations across Ontario, will help to fill a gap in understanding the needs of older people with regard to employment skills.

Suzanne Cook

Suzanne Cook

Suzanne Cook, adjunct professor at York University in the Department of Sociology, who is affiliated with York’s Centre for Aging Research and Education (YU-CARE), and Thomas Klassen, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the School of Public Policy and Administration, will identify programs that focus on the unique needs of older workers, such as confidence building, and managing work-related concerns about age. Their project will also review services for older workers with labour market obstacles such as disabilities, language barriers, and limited experience in paid employment.

“Once unemployed, older workers (those 50 and above) are among those who experience the most obstacles in finding new employment,” said Cook. “In the next decade, the number of older workers will increase significantly, and many will require labour market adjustment assistance to remain in the labour force.”

Thomas Klassen

Thomas Klassen

“Assisting older individuals to stay employed and helping them to remain competitive in the labour force is a critical task for governments,” said Klassen.

The findings of the research are expected to be of value to both policy makers charged with program design and evaluation, but also service providers and researchers.

“The shift to an aging workforce and the extension of working life make innovative policy and programs for older workers imperative in today’s labour market,” said Cook.

The research is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities through its Ontario Human Capital Research Innovation Fund.

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