It’s never too late

75% of British workers in their 50s think they have hit a career ceiling.

Retirement age is being postponed to the point where those in their 50s need to make decisions about their current and future career, possibly long into the future.

Delays to retirement age kicked in for men as well as women from the end of last year, and the state pension age will reach 66 next year.

Meanwhile, one in 10 people people believe they will carry on working until they die, and more than half think they will have to keep earning for at least some period during their old age, according to research by ING.

Tellingly, 34% of those surveyed were not aware of what they needed to do.

Nearly 40% were in middle management or just below it, suggesting they have room for growth, with up to 16 years of their career left before state retirement age.


Three out of four 51-60 year olds are deprived of any promotion opportunities with their current employers

If paths to promotion aren’t made clear, 45% of workers in their 50s say they would look for another job

Two thirds of employers reported a skills shortage last year, according to research by Totaljobs and Robert Walters.

Alexandra Sydney, group marketing director at Totaljobs said: “Our research reveals a significant proportion of the UK workforce believe they are being overlooked for promotion opportunities.

As life expectancy increases and the number of older workers rises, employers need to ensure they cater to the needs of all employees across the generations, lest they see a dip in engagement and productivity.

Tackling age-related bias both during the recruitment process and within workplace culture is essential to fostering an inclusive environment that values longevity of experience, while also acknowledging that learning and development doesn’t become less relevant with age.”

Older workers clearly see the value of training opportunities, so employers should look to understand where this cohort want to upskill, or even reskill, in order to further their career.

Alongside this, promoting inclusive employment policies and highlighting progression paths is essential in making sure experienced workers feel valued. Failing to invest in older workers could lead to them feeling devalued and “checking out” long before retirement.

As with everything concerning the workplace, there is a gender divide. Men in their 50s are more confident about what they need to do to get promoted, with 27% saying they know what steps to take, compared to 19% of women.

If you are in your 50s, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of promotion.

Make your ambition known: Having career progression front of mind is a good idea, and something your employer should be willing to support.

Whether it is the opportunity to learn new skills, increase earning potential or shape your company’s direction with fresh ideas, the first step is making your employer aware of your ambition.

Not only will this show your commitment to the organisation, but it will also encourage them to think about ways they might be able to carve out new roles or add additional responsibility to make the most of your experience.

Find out the pathways to progress: For those that want to progress into a more senior role, it’s important to talk to your employer about whether you have the required skills or if they feel that further training is needed.

A third of workers in their 50s have said that they are not at all aware of what they need to do to secure a promotion, so it’s important to have a conversation to find out what you need to do and how you might be able to improve.

Just because you have more experience than some of your younger colleagues, don’t feel like they should be the only ones that can benefit from training.

Whether it’s developing skills in project management, leadership, team building or decision making, don’t be afraid to ask your boss how you might be able to use company resources to support your progression.

Explore different ways of working: A traditional 9-5 work pattern isn’t always easy with commitments outside of work, but your responsibilities should not impede your career or earning potential.

With a skills shortage in the UK, employers are introducing more progressive ways of working to attract and retain the best talent and they’re waking up to shifting work patterns to meet different peoples’ needs.

Whether it’s working remotely or as part of a job share, having flexible hours or more project-focussed work, there are plenty of ways to manage work-life commitments.

Talk to your employer about how you might be able to shift your current working style to deliver your best work.

Keep your options open: With over a decade left to progress and grow, it’s important to take the time to think about how happy you are at your current company and role.

While older generations are appreciated for their loyalty in comparison to younger workers, if your employer isn’t giving you the progression opportunities you desire, think about what else might be out there.

While looking for new opportunities, remember that it’s never too late for a change from your usual beat. Some sectors are more age-friendly than others – you should think about how your transferable skills might help you segue into different areas.

Many employers look at more than just job titles, preferring to concentrate on a candidate’s relevant skills and experience, so be sure to identify which skills may be interchangeable across different industries.



On Topic

Related Articles


Our Cause

We will fight for a world where everyone feels safe, valued, able to grow, and be inspired by their role and the organisation that they work for. And that starts with us…


Our Cause

We will fight for a world where everyone feels safe, valued, able to grow, and be inspired by their role and the organisation that they work for. And that starts with us…