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About the research
Reskilling for encore careers for (what were once) retirement years
Jane Figgis, AAAJ Consulting Group
Encouraging older workers to stay in the workforce has become a policy priority, not least because the life expectancy of Australians has increased dramatically over the past several decades, effectively inserting a new stage in life, often called the ‘third age’.
This report explores the possibility of using that third age to embark on an ‘encore’ career. The author describes the encore career concept and why it might be an attractive alternative to retirement or to continuing in the same job past the traditional age of retirement. Then, drawing on interviews with TAFE institutes and other registered training organisations, she discusses how the encore career concept might be enacted in Australia.
Encore careers are well established in the United States, where they have been defined as work with a social purpose in the second half of life. This study suggests that Australians have a consistent and clear view about the basic shape of an encore career. It would:
be flexible, in terms of time, and allow for a sense of autonomy
start at or after the usual retirement age
involve a serious time commitment but not necessarily financial remuneration
take the person in fresh directions.
The vocational education and training (VET) sector may have a role to play in providing training for encore careers but such training will be difficult to accommodate within the current funding arrangements.
Despite an initial enthusiasm in TAFE institutes and other registered training organisations to develop programs that would help older Australians embark on encore careers, other priorities and a lack of resources meant that the idea generally has not been taken any further. Nevertheless, Jane Figgis has given us something to think about, with her alternative to the standard rhetoric of keeping older workers in their current jobs longer.
Managing Director, NCVER Contents
Executive summary 7
1The VET sector as provider of encore careers programs 8
2Infrastructure underpinning encore careers 9
4The research process 11
Ageing in the third age 13
Older workers’ experience 15
5Policies that encourage older workers to keep working 15
6Barriers limiting work opportunities for older workers 16
What is an ‘encore career’? 18
7A working definition of ‘encore careers’ 19
8Who are encore careers for? 20
9Is there a better label than ‘encore career’? 21
Creating encore career programs 23
10Existing encore career programs 23
11Encore career programs in the Australian context 26
12Challenges (impediments) to implementing encore career programs 29