Build a Portfolio Career

Building a Portfolio Career

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Mid Life Campaign

As we move through the 21st century we all expect to live longer, more fulfilled lives. Longer life expectation causes problems for the government and the pensions industry and we are now required to work for more years before we qualify for a pension. The ‘statutory retirement age’ is being phased out and ‘retire when you want to’ is being phased in.

This may be welcomed by those who are in rewarding jobs and who don’t fell ready to leave. Those who don’t have a job and whose pension entitlement has been deferred for several years may feel differently.
It is one thing to remain in a job past 60 or 65 if you’ve been employed by the organisation for a number of years. But what if you were made redundant in your late 40s or early 50s and find that job openings for you are negligible to non-existent? How will you manage until you reach the new retirement age (or even the old one?)
Many Midlifers find themselves in this position, through no fault of their own. They are ‘over qualified’ (too old) for most jobs that they apply for even if they are willing to take a large cut in their salary expectations.

The government (all governments) seem unable or unwilling to recognise that Midlifers who aren’t employed in their 50s face a severe uphill struggle to gain meaningful employment for the remainder of their working lives. Maybe the government is just na├»ve and doesn’t believe that the ‘over qualified’ (too old) response from recruiters and employers is the reality of life. Why should they; they are so far removed from the coal face that they believe their own rhetoric.

People in midlife have little support. People of pensionable age have a whole raft of support. Young people, too, have a host of government initiatives aimed at helping them to find worthwhile work (these initiatives may or may not be succeeding but at least they focus on the issue). Midlifers have little or no support to find a new role for themselves. They fall down between the cracks in the floorboards of life and many are unable to find a way out.

Vast amounts of experience are being wasted as talented midlifers struggle to find an outlet for their expertise. They can’t fallback on ‘early retirement’ in most cases as their pension pots aren’t sufficient to cover their needs. Neither do they want to retire prematurely – most midlifers want to carry on in the world of work, earning their living and putting their experience to good use.

There is a ticking time bomb here that is largely unrecognised.

So what’s to be done?
The government must recognise this issue and understand the implications of their changes in working policies. The Mid Life Opportunity will shortly be launching a campaign to raise the profile of midlifers. If you would like to be part of this, please join The Mid Life Opportunity mailing list and make your voice heard! Join here: The Mid Life Opportunity
Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here


  1. You are hitting on a subject that is near and dear to my heart. We are in our early 50's and we have seen friends downsized and it's a VERY tough situation. More needs to be done! Thanks for this post!

  2. I think the problem is wanting the Government of help fix the situation.

    I look at the value that older people bring to the table. They have experience and most generally a willingness to put in a lot of time and effort.

    There is no way that we can go down the same old path. I would say that as a general rule most people I meet that are in the midlife stage have a hard time accepting change. There are so many factors that seem unknowable.

    Now that I have ranted a little...lets look at the solution. As always no matter our age, we must create. Make new. There are thousands of solutions. Build a business of older mentors for young restaurant owners. Take child care to a new level for those working moms. Create an after school program for struggling students. Use that expertise and those life skills to make things better. We are a powerful force!

  3. Glad I was up late tonight, Rob, and caught your post. Boy, truer words were never spoken!

    I've been looking to make a midlife career change and it's really tough! Jobs are scarce and landing an interview is the next thing to impossible. The last position I applied for had over 300 applicants. I did manage to land an interview but a "younger" candidate was selected.

    I'm growing very tired of working three part time jobs to pay the bills and I really wish I could see some light at the end of the tunnel.

    Thank goodness for your online community! By the way, I really enjoyed your article about moving to the country and your Animoto video is awesome!!


  4. Martha, Sheila and Melanie,

    Thanks very much for your great comments from the other side of the pond...

    Most people in midlife who have 'fallen off of the merry go round' of their career, relationship, etc find it hard to jump back on. Western societies don;t seem to value wisdom and knowledge gained over the years.
    On the flip side, many midlifers, as you have said Sheila, expect too much help.
    There IS a Mid Life Opportunity - but it has to be recognised, grasped and nurtured. We must all continue to strive!