From education to employment

Why NIACE is taking the Mid-Life Career Review to The Skills Show

The Skills Show is a huge event showcasing a wide range of vocational areas. It demonstrates to young people, teachers, parents and the general public the importance of vocational skills to the success of the economy and the future prosperity of the country.

Young people are making their first decisions about their future, but people of all ages, including those in their mid-life and beyond, will also benefit from the inspiring demonstrations and talks.

But why are we focusing on people in mid-life? There are several compelling reasons:

  • There is no longer a statutory retirement age and the age for receiving the state pension is increasing. Many people aged 50+ are fit and healthy, some may be caring for their parents or perhaps their grandchildren. All of those aged over 50 could have at least 20 years of working life ahead of them. We are all likely to have to work for longer so we need to be prepared for the future.
  • Over-50s currently form 27% of the workforce and by 2020 it will be one-third. According to the Department for Work Pensions, current employer plans suggest we will need to fill 13.5 million job vacancies in the next 10 years but only 7 million young people will leave school and college. Older people are an untapped source of labour and older workers are increasingly looking to extend their working lives.
  • Guidance for employers urges them to offer Apprenticeships and work experience opportunities to people of all ages.
  • Around 60% of over-50s say they would like to continue working beyond state pension age, but on a part-time basis.

The way we spend our working lives is unpredictable but what we do know is we will be working for longer. In several parts of the country we are piloting mid-life career reviews. These can give individuals the opportunity to take stock of their own personal situation regarding work, retirement, health, finance or other issues. People then can, with support, review what their options are and make well-informed plans for their future.

The Mid-life Career Review project is seeking to identify what the demand is for this type of review. We are giving providers of information, advice and guidance – and other services – the opportunity to try out different models of career review, whether through group sessions, one-to-one interviews or online. The review can help those in mid-life to develop the skills to manage the transition to a new life stage.

So, in addition to showcasing the vocational skills needed we want to emphasise and highlight the other skills that people of all ages need whatever stage they are at in their life.

These, sometimes called, ‘softer’ skills include employability skills such as team working and communication skills.

As well as these softer skills we think all people need to have the skills to manage their own careers. These career-management skills include self-awareness, decision-making, awareness of all the options available and the ability to understand and critically evaluate the information available to you and then apply it to your own life. Motivational skills and planning for the future are also vital.

We all need to have these skills to manage our own life transitions at whatever age they occur not just for those in mid-life.

NIACE wants to help people to face the future with confidence, enabling them to take advantage of the many opportunities available, navigating their way successfully through all the options and learning throughout their lives.

NIACE’s Spotlight sessions at The Skills Show will focus on the importance of knowing about all these options in the changing labour market, making the most of employer insights, keeping options open, ensuring people make well-informed decisions supported by professional and expert advice and helping individuals take responsibility for their own future.

Roz Smith is project officer for the Mid-life Career Review at NIACE, which encourages all adults to engage in learning


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