After working for more than three decades, Janet Kelly is anxious to find another job and optimistic the St. John’s Board of Trade will help her do just that.
“I was so thankful when I heard about this project. I’m just so happy that they came up with this and to be part of it,” Kelly said.
The board’s Experienced Workers Project is exploring opportunities and barriers older workers face as they remain in, or look to return to, the workforce.
“Ensuring that the workforce of today and tomorrow is readily available to employers is vital to the success of our economy and our community,” said Rhonda Tulk-Lane, the board’s acting CEO.
Tulk-Lane said because of the province’s aging population, combined with the outmigration of younger workers, the need for older workers is increasing. Experienced workers have a tremendous amount of knowledge and abilities, Tulk-Lane said, and make great mentors for younger employees.
As people age, she said, they may want to work less hours and, where possible, accommodations should be made for them to do so.
Based on early research, Tulk-Lane said, there may be as many as 43,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador over the age of 55 who are looking for opportunities to return to the workforce.
“We know that we have older workers that want to be engaged .... We have already started connecting workers with employers …. We’ve launched a stream under our Connector (NL) program for older, experienced workers who can make an appointment with one of our staff, who will do an assessment. We pre-screen talent and match them with employers,” Tulk-Lane said.
Supported by the provincial government and in partnership with the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade, Connector NL helps people in St. John’s, Corner Brook and central Newfoundland grow their connections. It’s also a great program for employers to access job seekers.
Established about three years ago, Connector NL has led to more than 200 job matches so far, she said.
Having worked for three decades in administrative jobs, Kelly found herself unemployed about a year ago. She’s anxious to return to work, she said.
“I went from office manager to operations manager because I love to learn and I’m very enthused ... I honestly feel not whole when I’m not working,” the 56 year old said. Older workers have a lot of experience and much to offer employers, Kelly said. “We know how to communicate and we have experience that you just can’t buy.”
Kelly feels age can be a plus once the employer knows how committed the employee will be to the job. “I’m just so eager to get out there again. To be given a chance,” she said.
Research on Barriers and Opportunities to Workforce Participation for Older Workers in Newfoundland and Labrador is a project funded by the NL Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC) and led by the St. John’s Board of Trade, according to the St. John’s Board of Trade’s website. Once the opportunities and barriers are identified, an action plan will be developed.
To learn more about Connector NL, visit connectornl.ca. For more information about the Experienced Workers Project, visit stjohnsbot.ca/experiencedworkers.