The average retirement age has increased in recent years due to changes both political and economical with medical improvements also a factor. As a result, the average worker is expected to work longer than ever before and it would seem unreasonable to expect them to carry on in one career from the day they start on the production line until the very last. This is especially true considering the advances in technology in the past 50 years which have changed the workplace exponentially and in some cases require complete retraining. So what are the opportunities out there for the aging worker? And how are those opportunities accessed?
Before looking at what you can do, here is a brief look at the changes made in recent years which have led to a career being a multifaceted part of life rather than the old style of entering the workplace with one company and ending it thee some 40-years later.
At the end of 2017, Schroders wrote that most countries would increase the point at which citizens can withdraw a state pension to 67. Across Europe the current average age sits around 65, in the US and Australia the retirement age is currently 66 and in Canada it is 65. The majority of countries in these regions have announced plans to increase their pension age to a minimum of 67 with the earliest being 2022 while the UK is planning on raising the state pension age to 68 by 2037. And while some of these changes are still being protested against, the effects they are having on the decisions we all make with regards to our careers are already in full swing.
So with these retirement developments set to affect a large portion of society and the changes as mentioned above to the workforce with technology, let us look at some of the ways the average worker can keep their career interesting by making moves, learning new things and continuing to grow their personal skill set.
Starting with a career change, something that once could have seemed so daunting is now incredibly commonplace with the average worker changing jobs 12 times in their lifetime. This could be moving within an industry to a different company or to take on a different role where you currently are. But these changes can be led by a desire for something entirely new, and that is where technology comes in to be a friend of the worker and not just the foe it is so often portrayed to be.
The ability to learn as we work has been in the background for a long time now, the traditional methods of evening classes and weekend study sometimes proving challenging to navigate. When one works there is a tendency to allow that job to take over life and drain what energy you have available every day.
Fortunately, there are more and more studies being conducted to encourage employers and employees to address work-life issues. Making some subtle changes to your relationship with the workplace will suddenly free up a lot of time that you always felt should be there but couldn’t quite find it. Now you may want to use that time to relax, to socialize or develop a hobby. But as we are discussing the modern career person, what about not just addressing your current work-life balance but taking some bolder steps to turn the whole thing on its head.
As alluded to, learning as we work is something that most people are aware of but thanks to the internet it has become much more accessible. Say you’re a hard-working office worker in Toronto who wants to take their career to the next level, well now you can get an online MBA degree from a university in Australia. Not only is the world getting smaller but you’re opportunities to develop are getting bigger. But these new ways of learning and taking the opportunities to bet on ourselves are not as commonplace as you might think.
While it is difficult to track the number of adult learners, there are several studies around the world that demonstrate a weariness to enter into part-time, even full time, education as an adult and the reasons come from across a broad spectrum. In the UK for example, adult learning has dropped to a 20-year low with a possible reasons being cited as lack of funding, something their government has promised to address.
However, the reasons to not enter into education while working could be closer to home. Work-life balance may not be the only thing keeping you from taking the steps to commit to a course. Raising children is going to be a vital part of any decision you make regarding your career and the education you want to achieve, additionally the pressures of caring not just for your family but also close friends can be a deterrent.
Additionally, aside from government funding as is an issue in the UK, the cost of going back to school as an adult can seem extortionate. As the New York Times reports, some US-based courses can charge up to $700 per credit. So, to be clear, the topic being discussed is not being approached from a position that you must do this but instead is this an opportunity you can explore?
Career change, as discussed above, can feel almost inevitable with the changing landscape of today’s workforce. But that change doesn’t have to be expensive or scary; rather it can be the boost you require to get the most out of your current abilities instead of sticking to the tried and tested methods your current role allows you to follow.
To deviate slightly from the theme of changing careers from an in-work position, let us look at mothers who are keen to get back into the workplace after taking time out to raise their children. Taking a career-break is a tough decision to make and arguably an even tougher one is the decision to get back into the career you left behind. You will likely be met with suggestions that the industry you once thrived in has changed or that your time will be spread too thinly, but don’t allow that negativity to stop you from pursuing your goals.
There are a number of step-by-step guides available online which will not just give you the ideas on how to get back to work, thoughts you probably have wrestled with yourself before coming to your decision, but more important these guides give you the confidence and support to see that there are other readers and writers out there who are embarking on the same journey as you. Not feeling alone is one of the greatest things the internet can provide you with. The support of many voices cannot be underestimated.
One of the other tools available to you, as you take the steps to either return to the workplace or move into a new role, is the how-to lessons available on places like YouTube. The younger generation has grown up with the idea of just typing what they want to know into a search engine and then having that information at their fingertips. As the demand for knowledge grew so did the providers of content giving you detailed lessons on everything from new office based software to developing skills in recognizing social trends. You are no longer limited to adult learning courses, though they can be ideal for your development, but also now have a world of information available in a variety of way. Not all us are made to read text after text, some of us like to learn from audio-visual tools and that is where online video streaming website can come in useful.
Finally, armed with all this information about what you can achieve over your growing work life sometimes the hardest thing to remember is, you’re going to be working for a long time so make sure you enjoy it. Whether you have a passion for skiing which encourages you to start your own travel company or if you find yourself inspired to publish your own book, you should make sure that what you do for a living is working for you and not just the paycheck.
There is such a wide range of opportunity available to you that it can be overwhelming, but a positive approach and a belief in yourself can get you from where you are to where you want to be. And if you are happy with your current position, try to remember what has got you to that point of satisfaction. One day you might need to find it again and knowing where to start is half the battle won.
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