By Naomi Abrahams

In Canada, the second-largest population of residents are those between the ages of 45 and 64 years old, totalling approximately 10.16 million Canadians (Statistics Canada, 2020). We have seen an increased number of individuals above the age of 55 participating in the workforce, from 15.5% in 2006 to 18.7 %  in 2011 (Statistics Canada, 2018). At present time, and especially due to the increase of workers over the age of 55, it is not uncommon to hear of older workers in Canada suddenly finding themselves laid off, and experiencing multiple obstacles as they search for re-employment. I believe it is important to assess the roles of public employment agencies in mitigating the impact of layoffs for Canadians between the ages of 45-60 years of age, as such agencies are at the forefront of career development (or re-development).

Employment agencies serve as an intermediary for individuals seeking jobs and potential employers. Within such agencies, career counsellors can offer a wide variety of services, including advice for resume building and additional training (Holzner & Watanabe, 2016). Their role also includes finding positions for potential candidates. That being said, it is important to question how such agencies are geared to the wide variety of populations they serve. As more older workers seek out new employment opportunities, it is important to address ways in which these agencies in question can alter their programs to address the needs of the majority older worker population.

Older displaced workers may experience considerable obstacles as they attempt to re-enter the job market, including lack of job searching skills, lack of retraining opportunities or preconceived perceptions of older workers (being less driven, for example). In order to mitigate the impact of these layoffs and obstacles, employment agencies must be prepared to offer counselling that can help reduce the stigma that older workers may be experiencing. There must be considerable effort placed in offering support services to such age groups. Furthermore, we must call into question the existing policies in place for assisting laidoff workers that may be failing to support the affected Canadians. Ultimately, much effort is placed on career counselling for students and younger adults, but as the older working population of Canada continues to increase, it is necessary that the career development aspect be addressed when discussing older Canadians in the workforce.

Author Bio

Naomi Abrahams is a first-year master of social work student at the University of Ottawa. She is a recent graduate of the University of Guelph, from a program called Child, Youth and Family. Her areas of interest are vast, including interest in working with marginalized women, young parents, individuals with chronic conditions and more. She hopes to pursue a future career in the field of research.


Holzner, C., & Watanabe, M. (2016) Understanding the role of the public employment agency.    Tinbergen Institute. Retrieved from

Statistics Canada. (2018). Portrait of  Canada’s Labour Force. Retrieved from

Statistics Canada. (2020). Population estimates on July 1st, by age and sex. Retrieved from