A career change at 50 is a daunting prospect for most, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth pursuing.
For some, it’s an opportunity to explore new horizons before settling down. For others, it’s a necessary decision that helps them save money for the golden years they have planned. Whatever your reason for retraining, this page may be of help.
We’ll explore some of the common obstacles many people face and discuss actionable ways to overcome them.
From pre-retirement courses to the emotional considerations that may preempt life-changing decisions, we’ve got you covered.
Before making significant commitments in later life, it’s worth reflecting on why you’re looking to retrain in the first place. Someone who’s hoping to dabble in a new area on a part-time basis might pursue vastly different training pathways to someone who wants to establish a new business, for example.
The clearer you are about your motivations for retraining, the easier it will be to form an effective plan. Take your time here; Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Consider pre-retirement courses
The only person who can convince you to retire is you. If you’re not ready to leave the workforce, you’re well within your rights to stay. That said, it may be worth exploring what’s influencing your motivations.
Retirement is a monumental transition and can leave many feeling as though they’ve lost their sense of identity. A good pre-retirement course is designed to ease you into the expected changes and prepare you for what can be a joyous new chapter in your life.
Find jobs near you
Once you’re clear on why you want to retrain, it’s time to establish what you’re going to do about this new motivation. In particular, you’ll have to decide whether you want to build on what you’ve got or turn over a completely new page.
A complete overhaul?
This option is more akin to a career ‘jump’ than a career change. What have you always wanted to do? Which new territory will earn you the money you need later in life? The specifics here will be influenced by the conclusions you reached when reflecting on your ‘why’ earlier on.
Would a new position at your existing place of work be worth pursuing? Could just a few short courses on a given topic dramatically improve your existing skill set? Are you less interested in a change of scenery but more interested in your savings balance?
Some form of ‘tune up’ course could help. This could take the form of an IT skills course, a qualification that would open doors at your existing workplace, or anything else that might help you climb up a rung or two on the ladder.
Find the right avenues
While the modern workforce can feel relentlessly competitive, there is a silver lining for UK-based job seekers; the number of job vacancies in the country is rising. Before committing to a retraining course, it’s worth considering which avenues will lead to gainful employment.
If a field is oversubscribed, you may have to deal with periods of unemployment before finding work. The suggestions below might be a good place to start.
For those capable of working quickly and accurately with numbers, a bookkeeping course can be a fantastic option. Workers with bookkeeping skills are usually in high demand and are compensated reasonably well.
The great news here is that most basic bookkeeper’s training can be completed in around 40 hours. More comprehensive courses are also available and can take up to 18 months depending on the learning schedule.
The ability to plan, coordinate, and oversee projects on a large scale is hugely valuable to organisations across the country. For those who have been in the workforce for decades, the transition to this kind of role can be surprisingly straightforward.
Most project management courses are comparatively short and you’ll enter into a pool of job seekers who are in high demand.
This option will of course depend on your existing IT literacy. If you’re already confident at the computer, however, programming and similar jobs are in huge demand in the United Kingdom and are only set to grow in prevalence over the next several years.
Keep in mind that you’ll be working with a considerably younger pool of people than you may be used to. It’s also important to proceed with caution before spending money on a given course.
Tech and programming is a sector of the workforce that is expanding aggressively. For this reason, there are hundreds of courses available, each of them claiming to be the best option. Check for online reviews, genuine alumni accounts, and role prerequisites on job postings that interest you.
This will help you pick a course that’s worth your money.
We’ve covered the why and the what; it’s now time to reflect on what all this is going to cost. No matter how enticing a certain change may seem, it’s critical that you weigh any decision against your financial situation.
Can you afford to take a pay cut in order to pursue a more fulfilling career? How much will a good course for your new pathway cost? How easy will it be to secure pay rises in your new position?
Once you have crystal-clear answers to these questions, you’ll be able to move forward with confidence.
More actionable advice
We outline some more advice below that’s designed to help you on your journey into a post-50s career change.
Make sure you’re equipped for modern work
If you’re returning to the workforce after a significant period of time, it’s important to make sure you’re equipped for a modern workplace. IT, Maths, and language skills in particular can present obstacles to older workers.
The good news is that these are relatively easy to improve after a few short training sessions. This page from the UK government is designed to provide help and support in this regard.
Consider an older workers recruitment agency
Once you’ve chosen and completed your training course, it’s time to dive back into the world of work. Finding a recruitment agency that caters to older workers can be a great way to get your foot in the door.
A good recruitment agency will fight your corner and pursue the areas most likely to get you where you need to be.
Around 20% of the team at Hewett Recruitment are currently over 50 and the agency strives to champion their older workers in all that they do.
Get support from the right places
Sadly, seeking new employment can be unnecessarily challenging for those over 50. With the right support, however, gainful employment is a worthwhile and achievable goal. If you’re struggling to get off the ground, you may like to contact the following organisations:
Contact these companies employing older workers
Discriminating on the basis of age is illegal for employers in the United Kingdom. Sadly, however, this doesn’t mean all over 50s stroll into the positions they’re looking for. We’ve found a few companies with good track records when it comes to supporting older employees.
Boots employs over 60,000 people across the United Kingdom. Many of these employees are over 50 and working in a variety of different positions across retail and management roles. The Boots approach appears to be one of inclusivity and diversity.
Aviva is committed to supporting older employees in the United Kingdom. Their pilot scheme, the midlife MOT, is designed to help people start thinking proactively about their future job prospects.
The workforce at this company contains plenty of people over 50.
At the UK’s leading charity that supports older people, it should come as no surprise that plenty of people working at Age UK are in their later years themselves! The pensions and benefits available to Age employees are also well worth considering.
With over 4,750 branches across the UK, Barclays can be an excellent choice for older employees. Maths and IT skills will be important for most positions at this company. Expect reasonable compensation and a rewarding work environment.
Learn where to look online
The right websites can be instrumental in helping you find both the right course and later the right job. We’ve made a few recommendations for helpful websites below. As with any big decision, be sure to check online reviews and genuine testimonials before pulling the trigger.
Good sites for finding courses:
Good sites for finding jobs:
Retraining at 50 – Final thoughts
The adage ‘you’re never too old to learn’ is undeniably true. If you’ve got the motivation, the money, and the patience required, your later years can be whatever you’d like them to be. Just be sure to take your time before making any big decisions.
The clearer you are about your ‘whys’ and ‘whats’, the easier it will be to find the life you’re looking for.