When Jenny left a well paying job at the age of 57 to attend to family matters for a few years she had no idea of the hurdles she would face when she tried to return to the workforce.
With so much information around her saying that those over-50 would dominate the workforce in the years ahead, many putting a career before early retirement, it had never occurred to Jenny that in the modern workforce, 60 is considered old.
Some years ago there was a report highlighting that in the last 20 years there has been an 8.4 per cent increase in workers aged between 50 and 64 years, while those over-65 increased by 4.5 per cent.
Out of work and with nowhere to go, Jenny became one of a number of workers taking on an ambitious career move that was once thought to be exclusive to the 20-somethings able to knock out some crafty internet code at university, and in the process she figured out how to draw on her retirement savings in order to finance the business of her dreams.
According to a national study commissioned by over-50s insurer Apia, one in every two Australians over the age of 50 would change their career in an instant if the opportunity presented itself.
“Today’s over-50s are not over the hill,” Apia’s head of customer value Geoff Keogh says.
In fact, there are a number of reports highlighting that you want to stay in the workforce longer to boost your retirement savings, and the Government’s own Intergenerational Report has revealed in all likelihood you’ll be working longer with an estimated 17.3 per cent of workers aged 65 years or older by 2055.
Sure, a 20-something can work long hours to get the job done, but let’s be real for a minute — those in their 60s bring formidable advantages including knowledge and a refined skill set developed over many years in the workforce.
Jenny admits that the leap into running her own business was a scary one and “possibly not for everyone”, but she says business ownership has provided her with a level of autonomy she wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“There is financial uncertainty and the amount of work involved in launching my business was substantial,” she says. “But I have never done anything more satisfying.”
In Jenny’s case she was able to turn a hobby into a livelihood, running a small custom card making business from her home.
It might be that you are looking to do something similar, or have a longing to be your own boss after years of working for others. “A second career as an entrepreneur might be a viable solution,” Jenny says.
“As our research demonstrates, growing older doesn’t result in complacency. It means freedom and the luxury of time to accomplish great things — arguably the stage in one’s life where the possibilities are actually endless,” Geoff Keogh says.