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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
HR 2007: The Battle for Talent, Toronto, Canada, October 15 and 16, 2007
Yvette DiepenbrockDirector, Marketing and Communications, The Conference Board of Canada.
This annual HR conference hosted by the Conference Board of Canada was attended by 200 of Canada’s senior leaders in the human resources profession from a variety of public and private sector organizations. David K. Foot, Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto and author of the best-selling book, Boom, Bust, and Echo, described the impact on the workforce of having three generations of workers – Boomers of the 40s and 50s, the Bust generation of the 1960s and 1970s, and the Echo cohort – now entering the workforce with a set of values that differ significantly from their Boomer parents.
Foot presented a series of population pyramids to illustrate the impact of an aging population in Canada and other countries around the world. Looking at Germany, the largest country in Europe today with 82.5 million people, its population is starting to decline. Russia has already experienced a declining population and the population of Japan has been declining for the last three years. Declining populations have a direct impact on the countries’ economies – Germany, Russia and Japan will not be the powers of the future. On the other hand, Turkey has a population of educated women, and the population distribution of Turkey today looks like Canada in the 1970s. As an example, Turkey could be building the foundation for rising per capita incomes in the future.
Pedro Antunes, a senior economist with The Conference Board, opened the conference with a presentation about the scope and depth of Canada’s growing talent shortage. Demographics, and specifically how the public and private sector respond to the ageing workforce, is the most fundamental driver of Canada’s long-term economic growth potential. As labor market conditions tighten further, Canadians will have to choose between accepting slower potential economic growth and its consequences, and adapting. The Conference Board has outlined the following three options:
The first option is to rethink the workforce and boost the rate of labor force growth. A more aggressive and integrated immigration policy, enhanced efforts to retain older workers, expanded use of aboriginal workers and higher participation rates for women would all be part of an effort to boost labor force growth.
A second option is to boost productivity growth – through increased investment, elimination of barriers between the provinces, increased competition in specific sectors and investment in infrastructure.
The third basic option is to restructure the economy, and individual firms, through greater reliance on off-shore outsourcing and through more investment abroad.
Other speakers at the HR 2007 conference discussed several best practice case studies for winning the war on talent, engaging employees and recruiting and retaining workers. The full proceedings of HR 2007: The Battle for Talent is available on CD-ROM by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1-866-242-0075.