A new study has challenged commonly-held age-related stereotypes about workers at different stages of their careers.
The idea that if you are young, you must be ambitious and more employable whereas older workers are winding down and looking towards retirement, may not be the case. These are the findings in a ground breaking report by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott published in the Harvard Business Review.
Gratton and Scott, both professors at the London Business School, surveyed 10,000 people aged 24 to 80 from all over the world. They found that more than half of older workers are investing in new skills to keep themselves relevant in the workplace, are excited about their jobs, work harder to keep fit and are by no means tired and winding down towards the end of their careers.
“The six assumptions we have explored here are probably just aspects of a much bigger tapestry of assumptions about the young and old that are spurious, wrong, even damaging,” the pair write.
“When corporations believe that older workers invest less in their knowledge, are less excited by their work and exploring their world, and are on a path to physical decline and exhaustion, they make the wrong decisions about who to select, promote and develop, and who to retire.”
The shifting of these stereotypes is most likely linked to the changing structure of today’s typical working life, the report concludes.
Gratton and Scott suggest that the traditional three stages of education, work and retirement are becoming increasingly obsolete as people live longer and therefore must work longer to finance their retirements.
This has resulted in a reshaping of motivations and attitudes across all age groups, they argue.
“We found far fewer differences between the age groups than we might have imagined,” Gratton and Scott write.
“In fact, many of the traits and desires commonly attributed to younger people are shared by the whole workforce.”
Age stereotypes feed immigration policies all over the world, including Canada, where the Express Entry System awards a declining number of points based on the age of candidates.
Points Awarded By Age Under Express Entry
|Age||With a spouse or common-law partner||Without a spouse or common-law partner|
|17 or less||0||0|
|20 to 29||100||110|
|45 or more||0||0|
Source: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
This allocation of points is governed in part by the idea that younger workers are more economically active, although the main consideration is that they are less likely to draw on government resources than the older generation.
Canada is focused on reversing an aging population and shrinking workforce using immigration.
The issue is at its most acute in Atlantic Canada, where a new growth strategy has been implemented aimed at tackling the demographic problem.
Canada is also focused on helping international graduates remain in the country to begin their working lives here, and is about to modify Express Entry to facilitate this.
Immigration Minister John McCallum says they are the blue-chip choice for new permanent residents because they are young, have knowledge of the Canadian way of life, know Canada’s languages and have Canadian qualifications.
Most of McCallum’s argument is common sense, but it also feeds into the stereotypes challenged in the Gratton and Scott report.
While it certainly makes sense that older workers are nearer retirement than the younger generation, studies like the one conducted by Gratton and Scott are worth considering when shaping future immigration policies.
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