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Growing numbers of older workers plan upskilling in a bid for a career change

David Woods , 30 Jul 2010

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Work life begins at 50 with almost a third of older employees planning a career change, new research reveals.

As life expectancy and pensions age continue to rise HSBC reveals nearly one third (30%) of the UK’s 21.3 million over 50s have taken the plunge and ‘career shifted’ in their later working years.  This figure increases to 41% amongst 60 to 70 years old.

In a survey of over 2,000 of the UK’s over 50’s, HSBC found 21% of those who have changed their career did so as a result of being made redundant – affecting more men than women in this generation (27% and 16% respectively).

But 15% simply long for a change of direction and 11% were looking for a career that was less pressurised and demanding. 

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When asked why they would consider changing their job at the age when people might consider slowing down, 29% said for a new challenge and 27% said to pursue a long held ambition or to gain income from a persona skill or hobby.

Of those who have actually made the switch 75% made a complete career change, 13% down shifted their skills and  6% ‘up shifted’ their roles .

The remaining 7% used the skills gained in their career up until then to become a consultant or adviser in the same or a complementary field.  Self-employment or entrepreneurialism was a popular choice for those choosing to "career shift".

While embarking on a new challenge is the key driver for over 50s considering a career change, 26% said that a second career would have to bring them a greater degree of satisfaction.  And for 27% this required a less stressful job – a prerequisite that decreases with age (30% for 50-60 year olds and 22% for 61-70 year olds) - and for 24% this meant options for flexible working.

David Wells, head of pensions, savings and investments at HSBC said: "The findings from this research show the changing nature of the UK’s workforce at first hand as the population ages and also highlights the key drivers influencing today’s older population when it comes to decisions of employment.

"As the requirement for people to work longer becomes more apparent it appears that the over 50s are embracing this head on and pursuing the careers they have always wanted. Many it seems are doing this to fill a shortfall in retirement income, but equally many are looking to embrace new skills and challenges that may now only become possible after careful financial planning during their earlier working life.

"It appears that it is never too late to change, but to ensure that a later career will offer the financial support required it is important that people seek financial advice early on so they can enjoy their change of career focus for many more years to come."

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