Author Topic: Why shouldn’t the over-50s start a new career?  (Read 660 times)

Reyed Mia (Apprentice, DIU)

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Why shouldn’t the over-50s start a new career?
« on: April 22, 2017, 10:28:59 PM »
Why shouldn’t the over-50s start a new career?

Is it too late to change your life? A question for the sleepless small hours, perhaps; for the middle-aged and heavily mortgaged, burnt out or trapped in jobs that were never their dream. So many fantasise about escape, but worry that the chance for all that is long gone; that they’re too weighed down by responsibilities now to throw everything up in the air and start again.

So you could almost hear the sighs of envy when the Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway declared she was jacking in her by all accounts delightful job to retrain as a maths teacher in an inner-city comp – and to focus on the organisation she has set up, Now Teach, urging experienced bankers, lawyers and accountants to round off their careers in the classroom too.

At 58 Kellaway’s four children are grown up, she’s financially secure and, as she put it, it seemed like a good time to take a risk. (It may or may not also be relevant that she recently got divorced, for what’s one more upheaval when your life is changing drastically anyway?) Only time will tell how many others she can lure from the City but I’d bet my life plenty of jaded 50-somethings who have lost interest in their jobs will be following her progress keenly.

Ironically some of them will almost certainly be teachers, who would retrain as well-paid and revered FT columnists in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the fact that somehow this always seems to be a one-way street. Giving it all up to teach is becoming a stock answer for people who aren’t sure what else to do with their lives and the breezy implication that teaching is basically an easy fallback option – something anyone could pick up if they chose, rather than an intensely demanding career in which a lifetime’s experience of doing it might come in pretty handy – must be infuriating.

But in fairness to Kellaway, a teacher’s daughter who has seen one of her own daughters in turn train as a teacher, I don’t think she meant it so crassly. When asked about her motives she repeated something her sister, the Observer journalist Kate Kellaway, had said about craving the “luxury of being useful”. It seems she wants to be needed, in a way that writers of amusing columns on corporate culture ultimately aren’t, and frankly who doesn’t want that?

Just ask the newly retired, moping around the house with nothing much to do; or formerly stay-at-home mothers whose children are flying the nest; or indeed anyone out of work and desperately looking for it. If you’re not needed by somebody for something, even if only to cut up their fish fingers or find their lost PE kit, then it’s hard to know quite where you fit or why you matter.
Reyed Mia (Apprentice, DIU)
Asst. Administrative Officer and Apprentice
Daffodil International University
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