Are You Over 50? Get Back To Work!

When I was at school, I had careers advice. Not that it was any good. Become a teacher, they said. Or a train driver. Whatever, so long as you come out of here with one of these leaflets to prove that we’ve done something.

I laugh, but I don’t envy careers officers going into school these days. Half the jobs they’re touting won’t even exist in a decade thanks to Artificial Intelligence (allegedly), and half the jobs that will exist in ten years’ time probably haven’t even been dreamt of yet.

Who would have thought, for instance, back in the early days of the internet in the 1990s, that there would be an army of social media managers? Pre-Google, who would have thought that there would be people dedicated to managing the ads that appear above your search results? And yet these are the jobs helping to power the whole economy.

Become a teacher, indeed.

Well, perhaps I shall, one day. When I’m in my 50s.

The government is, apparently, very keen that the over-50s get back into the workforce, because they have been leaving in ever-increasing numbers. You can attribute that to COVID, perhaps, but you could also attribute it to the fact that many jobs are quite simply ‘too young’ for the over-50s.

Could I, for instance, be bothered to become an AI Marketer? Frankly, I’m not going to do that, and I know a lot of Generation Alpha kids coming through who would take to it like ducks to water. I wouldn’t even dream of being a social media manager, as these roles are perfect for Millenials.

Tempting people back into ‘work for young people’ isn’t going to happen. And yet the government sees fit to plough £70m into schemes that support the over 50s staying in or returning to work.

The irony is that these over-50s are demanding the same thing as the under-50s. Flexibility, hybrid or remote work, support with child or elder care, and so on and so on. So much for the generational divide, huh.

Increasingly, the over-50s are demanding to be re-skilled. Rather than following the traditional linear careers that, in the 1970s, were more or less assured, there are increasing numbers of over-50s who are switching careers, taking up apprenticeship programmes and learning entirely new professions.

Such as teaching.

We’ve discussed before in this blog the benefits of generational diversity in the workplace. And we can put to one side the “work is good for your mental health” argument that is being pushed by those publishing these kinds of reports – and instead focus on the idea that workplaces that include people with different perspectives is A. Good. Thing.

Published on Jun 30, 2023 by Gareth Cartman