A Study on the Status of Senior Entrepreneurship in Canada: Training Implications for Career Counsellors

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The Need

In 2011, an estimated five million Canadians were 65+; that number is expected to double to reach 10.4 million by 2036. By 2051, about one in four Canadians is expected to be 65+ (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2011). This demographic shift, its speed and its impact and implications will dominate the Canadian social, political and economic landscape for the foreseeable future.

A subset of older adults represented by these numbers is the cohort known as “senior entrepreneurs.” In 2012, individuals 50+ made up the fastest growing age demographic for start-ups in Canada, accounting for approximately 30% of the total number of start-ups in the country. Since 1990, the rate of entrepreneurs 50+ has more than doubled itself, and the trend continues to rise. Despite knowing these 2012 statistics, very little is known about the characteristics of older entrepreneurs in Canada – their needs, challenges, interests and their contributions. The field, at this point of time in Canada, is almost a blank slate.

The Research Study

This study is being conducted by the Centre for Elder Research located at Sheridan College in Oakville, ON and builds on related work piloted at the Centre. The research addresses gaps in knowledge about senior entrepreneurship in Canada by investigating the experiences, needs and interests of senior entrepreneurs. For purposes of this study, a senior entrepreneur has been defined as “an individual 50+ who has either launched his/her own business after the age of 50 or who would like to start their own business.”

Based on the research results, the Centre’s team will produce a comprehensive report that includes program and policy recommendations for key stakeholders including policy analysts, career development professionals and others who may be guiding or coaching senior entrepreneurs. The study team will intentionally recruit a diverse group of established and new senior entrepreneurs to ensure a comprehensive understanding of this emerging area.

The Impact

As the face of aging and retirement in Canada continues to change, the role and impact of senior entrepreneurs is expected to increase in the coming years and decades. This study will result in increased knowledge about and, a greater understanding of, senior entrepreneurs in Canada and the factors that may help them succeed. It is reasonable to suggest that their success will have a positive ripple effect on the Canadian economy. It is anticipated that the proposed research will take an important first step into this burgeoning field, responding to an information gap for career development professionals and others by providing them with greater insight with which to more effectively guide senior entrepreneurs.

This study and all related reports are expected to be complete by February 2018.