Changing Careers Common among People Aged 50+

Nearly a third of people (30 per cent) aged over 50 have changed career in later life according to a new survey.  The figure increases to over four out of ten (41 per cent) of those aged 60 to 70 year olds.

The YouGov survey, carried out on behalf of HSBC Bank, interviewed over 2,000 people aged 50 – 70 in the UK.  It found that 21 per cent of those who have changed their career did so as a result of being made redundant – this was more likely to be the case with men than women (27 per cent and 16 per cent respectively). However, others had chosen to ‘career shift’ for more positive reasons with 15 per cent simply longing for a change of direction and 11 per cent looking for a career that was less pressurised and demanding. 

When asked why they would consider changing their job at an age when many people might consider slowing down, 29 per cent said it was for a new challenge and 27 per cent said in order to pursue a long held ambition or to gain income from a personal skill or hobby.

Of those who have actually made the switch:

  • 75 per cent made a complete career change – e.g. a teacher retraining to become a florist
  • 13 per cent ‘down shifted’ their skills – e.g. a solicitor who now only writes wills
  • 6 per cent ‘up shifted’ their roles - e.g. police officer to fraud investigator

The remaining 7 per cent had 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’.

The survey also found that over half (55 per cent) of those surveyed do not anticipate ever stopping work completely.  The sentiment seems to increase with age so that whilst this was the case for 54 per cent of those aged 50-60, it was 57 per cent for those aged 61 to 70 year olds.  For six out of ten of those intending to go on working, the reason was to make up for a shortfall in their retirement income.

David Wells, Head of Pensions, Savings and Investments at HSBC, comments:

“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.”

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