A demographic challenge is fast looming for Canada. As our population ages, a whole new set of societal, business and political challenges arise, where currently no ideal solution exists. These challenges aren’t limited to just our country – they are also occurring in Western Europe and countries such as China.
Could you tell us a little bit about the main demographic challenge that Canada faces today?
Canada’s challenge of an aging population is a critical issue because unlike other challenges that we face in the economy, what’s happening with demographics is not something that you can fix by increasing interest rates or choosing other short-term tools common in government economic policy. Really, this is a long-term challenge.
How is this topic relevant to prospective MBA students?
This topic is important to those learning to become leaders because this isn’t something that we’ve encountered before. For example, current challenges in the workplace – the way that companies finance their retirees’ benefits or where they source new workers – are issues that we’ve never dealt with before. Ultimately, solutions need to be headed by a new generation of leaders.
Is there a particular industry that will be affected more than others?
If you think about this from the perspective of “how do I make money?” it’s really hard to know who the winners will be. You may think of investing in the retirement home business, but the problem will come in 15 to 20 years when the generation of baby boomers has passed. You’ve got to think about what your business model is 15 years after that. So, it’s a harder question to answer than you’d think.
Do you think that high-skilled immigration to Canada is going to offset the issues associated with an ageing population?
That’s another important issue to address in conjunction with this topic. There’s a lot of competition for new immigrants and Canada regularly doesn’t meet its quota. Everyone wants young people who are highly educated and entrepreneurial; unsurprisingly, these people want to bring the rest of their family, including their parents. So, if you look at the demographic profile of immigrants to Canada, it doesn’t look very different from Canada’s population make up.
Any advice to business leaders and prospective students regarding this topic?
I would suggest that they familiarize themselves with the popular press. There’s a lot written about saving for retirement, myths about working longer, and intergenerational conflict. This will help them understand how this demographic challenge is already affecting their personal, professional and political life and can help them think of ways to address these issues.
On January 20th, 2016 meet Professor Doug Hyatt and learn about this critical topic that will affect your future and the world of business. Register and attend his sample class on the nature and implications of Canada’s evolving demographic.