Lifelong learning but what about lifelong chances to start over?

In a global fast-moving technological age, the demands on human capital change rapidly. We always hear the constant refrain of lifelong learning being essential to keep up with the demands of the modern capitalist society, so that labour can keep pace and productivity rises. What is less spoken of, is the need for people midway through their working lives to have to start a new career. It is as if the model above is learning new skills to do your existing job, rather than learning new skills to do a job that never existed when you were of school or college age.

I thought about this when I received yesterday a text from O2 “Aged 18-24? Looking for a career in film? Join our crew.” I have never received a text which has said “Aged 38-44? Looking for a career in …” We are still geared towards opportunity for the young. Nimble minds, still fresh from learning in education, flying high. Without having yet experienced reality grabbing them by the heel and saying what the hell do you think you are trying to achieve, get your feet back on the ground.

A second wind comes with age, realising that you have acquired a mass of skills and life experiences. You might be able to take on new responsibilities having finished raising a family or looking after a relative. A redundancy means you are looking for a new direction. Something has given you a kick up the backside that the future is passing you by so jump on it now.

You can be every bit as hungry when not seeing your whole working life before you, perhaps more so as you look to make your mark while you still can. If we argue lifelong learning is essential, then also life chances throughout our working life are also essential.

Opportunity should be there for everyone – so let’s see some being offered to people still on the hill and by no means over it.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Lifelong learning but what about lifelong chances to start over?

  1. Fortunately I have never had to change career, although I changed organisations at ages 27, 33, and 36. I appreciate later career changes can be challenging. However there are many inspiring examples, such as Ray Kroc who, from memory, was 54 when he founded McDonalds the burger chain. Keeping such people in mind helps.

    • There are reasons to be positive – it was more the disconnect between the emphasis on lifelong learning but not having an ageless attitude to recruitment that went alongside it.

      Maybe that will come if demographically we are left with a relatively older workforce and increasingly less young people. My hope, is the idea of a thirty/forty something starting out on a trainee programme somewhere is seen as normal as them doing a degree.

      Time, like age, proves many things.

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