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Retirement wave leaves vacancies at City of Nanaimo

The City of Nanaimo continues to fill vacancies as a wave of baby boomers announce their retirements.

Baby boomers have been exiting the municipal workforce in high number for the last several years, according to the City of Nanaimo, from 15 in 2011 to 21 last year.

Fifteen employees announced in the first two months of this year that they plan to retire in 2014, including 10 managers. The number represents 12 per cent of the city’s non-unionized workers.

The drop in long-service and senior employees comes as no surprise to Terry Hartley, the city’s director of human resources and organizational planning, who says it’s just demographics – boomers across the private and public sectors are eligible to retire and making their exits.

The City of Nanaimo has been preparing for the wave of retirements with strategies from encouraging people to share knowledge, to mentorship and named successors, but Hartley said there are still challenges ahead, including reorganization and recruitment.

Eight of the 21 positions vacated in 2013 remain unfilled.

“I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming,” Hartley said. “It keeps us busy with recruitment and trying to get the right people for the job.”

In the next five years, the municipality expects 30 per cent of permanent employees will be eligible to retire without pension penalties, including 48 per cent of management and non-unionized employees.

This year, Nanaimo saw the retirements of fire chief Ron Lambert and Ian Blackwood, manager of parks maintenance and construction. Susan Clift, director of engineering and public works, announced her exit unexpectedly in December over personal reasons and left in January, according to Hartley. The position is now filled by acting director Bob Prokopenko, formerly the city’s senior manager of engineering.

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