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A survey of professionals reveals that 30% of people in their 50’s will make a career shift in later life.

A survey by global bank HSBC has revealed 30 per cent of people in their 50s decide to have a change of career later in life. A further 55 per cent of older people in the UK said they do not think they will ever completely stop working.

As life expectancy and pensions age continues to rise - HSBC reveals that nearly one third (30%) of the UK's 21.3 million over 50s have taken the plunge and "career shifted" in their later working years.  This figure increases to 41% amongst 60 to 70 years old.

Longing for a Change in Direction

In a survey of over 2,000 of the UK's over 50's, HSBC found that 21% of those who have changed their career did so as a result of being made redundant - affecting more men than women in this generation (27% and 16% respectively). However, others chose to "career shift" for more positive reasons with 15% simply longing for a change of direction and 11% looking for a career that was less pressurised and demanding. 

When asked why they would consider changing their job at the age when people might consider slowing down, 29% said for a new challenge and 27% said to pursue a long-held ambition or to gain income from a personal skill or hobby.

Of those who have made the switch:

-        75% made a complete career change – for example, a teacher retraining to become a florist

-        13% "down shifted" their skills – for example, a solicitor who now only writes wills

-        6% "up shifted" their roles – for example, a police officer who is now a fraud investigator

he remaining 7% 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".

Striving for retirement?

However, to conclude that today's over 50's are embarking on their career of choice to enjoy the final years of employment before retirement would be wrong. 

Of those who have actually made the switch, 75% made a complete career change – for example, a teacher retraining to become a florist

Shockingly, more than half (55%) of today's older generation never anticipate ceasing work completely.  This sentiment grows as people age (54% of 50 - 60-year olds and 57% of 61 - 70-year olds) with 60% intending to do so to compensate for the shortfall in their retirement income (55% of 50 - 60 year olds and 67% of 61 - 70 year olds).

Greater Satisfaction

While embarking on a new challenge is the key driver for over 50s considering a career change, 26% said that a second career would have to bring them more satisfaction.  And for 27% this required a less stressful job - a prerequisite that decreases with age (30% for 50-60-year olds and 22% for 61-70 year olds) - and for 24% this meant options for flexible working.  

According to David Wells, Head of Pensions, Savings and Investments at HSBC, "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.  

"It appears that it is never too late to change, but to ensure that a later career will offer the financial support required, it is important that people seek financial advice early on, so they can enjoy their change of career focus for many more years to come."

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