The Current

Why more Canadians are ditching retirement for new careers

New research shows more Canadians aren't just hitting the golf course in their 60s, they're starting new jobs. Some because they have too, but many because they simply want to.
Heather Leavens found a second career in her mid 50s and recommends taking the time to discover inner passions to find a fulfilling job, even if its not at the same salary. (Britany Powell)

Read story transcript

It used to be when people in their 50's and 60's were in the workforce, they were dreaming of the day they could retire - a life pursuing interests and hobbies.

That was then.

Now, a new study by a York University professor says increasingly more and more older working Canadians see an opportunity to begin a new chapter in their lives — seeking a second, and even third career, and
Bill Medd never wants to retire because he loves learning and helping people. (Adam York)
redefining retirement.

Bill Medd is 61. He left his old job in his mid 50's to start a new career as a consultant in a human resources company in Wininpeg.

"I had no real experience in what I was doing going into consulting, I had no certifications, no reputation. So needless to say there were some long and lonely days, a lot of introspection," Medd tells The Current's guest host Connie Walker. 

"As I tell people I got to know my dog very, very well," says Medd.

Maybe at this point in time in your life it might be nice to have a job that you really enjoy going to.- Heather Leavens

Heather Leavens also changed her career in her mid 50's when a family run aviation business of 87 years closed down. After a year off left her feeling bored, Leavens looked for something she felt passionate about. She now works as a sales associate in an upscale clothing boutique for women.

"You should take some time, find out what you are passionate about. Where before you might have been working just to pay your mortgage and stuff like that. But maybe at this point in time in your life it might be nice to have a job that you really enjoy going to."

A redirection

Both Leavens and Medd are part of a growing trend in the Canadian workforce that Suzanne Cook is studying. She's a social gerontologist and an adjunct professor at York University in the Department of Sociology in York's Centre for Ageing Research and Education.
Social gerontologist Suzanne Cook says we need to recognize there are intergenerational workplaces and the generations need to work together. (Courtesy of Suzanne Cook)

Cook coined the term "redirection" to refer to the process of finding new pursuits during the second half of life. She tells Walker how more people want to be engaged and productive in the community and contribute to the economy.

"They are expanding their working life and they're using their skills, their knowledge, their experience and new pursuits, new occupation, new direction. So it is an alternative to retirement."

She says that people who love volunteer work wanted to find paid work that could use their knowledge and skills in a specific sector. 

In the future we're going to be seeing more people want to redirect.- Suzanne Cook

In Cook's research, about half of the individuals need to work for financial reasons and the other half want to work for fulfillment.

She tells Walker that organizations and employers need to recognize the value and benefit of hiring older people.

"There's a possibility, an opportunity there and I think that in the future we're going to be seeing more people want to redirect. It's going to be anticipated and planned for and frankly expected," says Cook.

"So we're we're going to continue to see this trend in our society."

WEB EXTRA | Watch Professor Suzanne Cook's documentary Redirection: Movers, Shakers, and Shifters below:

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by Winnipeg network producer Suzanne Dufresne and Calgary network producer MIchael O'Halloran.