A pilot designed to help people over 50 change or review their careers is looking to help women who have taken time out to raise families.
The Mid-Life Career Review is supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and is being piloted with 18 partners around England.
It has been prompted in part by the rising number of people who will have to work longer, for example, due to the retirement age going up and concerns over pension rates.
It began in January and will run until next March when a report evaluating it, finding out what works and making recommendations will be submitted to the government and the National Careers Service.
Roz Smith, project officer of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, which is managing the project, says different partners are offering different models for addressing the mid-life career issue. Some, for instance, are doing group work; others focusing on one to one interviews; digital options involving Skype and webchat are also being investigated. The National Careers Service is offering a phoneline.
Roz says: “Women are a key client group. We want to identify what the main issues are for them which might be different to those for men, such as returning to work or career change.”
She adds that building confidence is vital, as is self awareness and helping people understand what they want, whether that is self employment or a change of career. “An audit of who you are and what your strengths, weaknesses and skills are is a good starting point,” she says.
Other issues include redundancy. As a result of the recession, many people are losing their jobs and those in their late 40s and 50s often find it harder to find a new job. They may consider a change of career or setting up their own business.
They may also be looking for more flexibility as they face challenges such as looking after elderly parents or grandchildren. Health issues and declining energy levels may also mean they need more flexible work options.
Careers South West is one of the 18 pilots and it is conducting one to one meetings with follow-up feedback. It is also holding one to one discussions and group meetings with individual follow-ups for people who are about to be made redundant and has contacted employers to offer staff a career review. Other initiatives include an open forum for people currently not working but looking for employment and the service is also giving out customised memory sticks and packs with information and resources to the people they see.