Unretiring — the future of work

Jane Horan
3 min readMar 30, 2022

Your mid-way career a great opportunity to find your purpose, and in doing so, keep growing.

Are you listening to the voices in your head “too experienced, “too expensive”, “the only thing I can do is ____”, Or you might think you’ll just never get your resume past a recruiter.

People in their 60++and beyond increasingly want stimulating jobs, and have little desire of quietly and fully retiring. What mainly holds them back are persistent ageist stereotypes.

Do you think — you’ve passed the peak?

Not so. Having one job for life is no longer, as the average worker changes jobs 12 times in the course of their career and stays with an employer for 4.1 years. These facts simply tilt towards later-life career transitions. As no one remains in one job, better for employers to engage someone with accumulated skills, knowledge and life experience who can add value and perspective from the start.

Prior to 2010, those aged 25–64 were the lion’s share of all labor-force, now, it’s those over 65 who will account for more than 60% of employment growth over the next decade. Paradoxically, the older you become, the better your prospects.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2030, 9.5 percent of the workforce is projected to be older than 65. Not only is the share of older people in the workforce growing, but their participation rates are rising. Oddly enough, the same research indicates, that the 16 to 24 year old, is projected to shrink by 7.5 percent through 2030, whereas among those 75 years and older, it’s expected to grow by 96.5 percent in the next decade!

Across Asia, Pew Research suggests the number of Asians over the age of 60 is expected to hit 1.2 billion by 2050. Adding to this, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea will begin to experience a decline in population over the next decade.

Looking at the demographics, companies now face a decline of new joiners coming in, and many have better retention plans to mitigate decades of experience walking out the door.

Push back on the common phrase, “you’re overqualified.

It simply means you have more experience. When creating a meaningful later-life career, there’s a good chance you’ll be looking to step away from the same job you’ve done and start scoping the market for something new. Yes, it is do what your strengths are, and whisk away some of the variables.

It’s never too late to make a radical career shift.

As lifespans now edges toward 100, it’s safe to say you haven’t peaked — and your career hasn’t peaked until you say it has. If you have a dream and ambition, there’s plenty of time to explore opportunities, make a lateral move, or start again in a new industry.

It is a gross misconception to think that people cannot learn new skills in later life; the opposite might actually be true.

Case in point, Natalie Berndes, at 106, is San Diego State University’s Oldest Living Alumna, (1937). Sharp and witty, she composes poetry in her mind — including her own elegy, ‘Adios’ — which her family assembled into a book.

Picasso in his last four years, produced more than at any other comparable period of his life.

And, let’s not forget Ben Franklin invented bifocals at age 76.

It’s a matter of commitment. If you re-skill yourself for a career adjustment in later life, your level of commitment is typically very high and focused, compared to those at the start of their career, finding their way.

My advice? Consider a later-life career an opportunity to take stock and identify your priorities. You’ve spent several decades working, now you have the perfect opportunity to prioritize the areas where you’re likely to get the most return for your time and investment.

As our lifespan edges upward, age presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurship. Carlos Slim, at 82 views age as opportunity for entrepreneurship, arguing that workers in developed economies are in their prime in their 60's.”

No doubt, your priorities will shift. Forget the nay-sayers, push-bascks and stereotypes around aging. The only thing holding you back is your mindset. Certainly not age.

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Jane Horan

Author. Helping people find meaningful work. I write monthly on inclusion, political savvy and careers and how these interconnect. jane@thehorangroup.com