A Tendency of Mind-Rewriting the Story: An Exploration of Later-Life Career Transition

As life expectancy rates continue to rise, so does the need for continued participation in the workforce. Economic sustainability and aging in place become values anticipated and realized through longer life spans. The ability to maintain lifestyle is severely halted when individuals are faced with loss of employment. This qualitative case study was created to delve into how individuals separated from the workforce after the age of 50, re-gain employment. The foundation of this study was couched on the following assumptions: (1) the older/later-life displaced worker will have developed/learned a set of competencies comprised of attitudes behaviors and skills underpinning ventures of re-engagement into the workforce; (2) workforce re-engagement can sustain livelihoods for later-life displaced workers; (3) older/later-life displaced workers have found self-sustaining opportunities through re-engagement pathways that have allowed them to continue to contribute to their communities. Twelve individuals over the age of 50 representing eight states, and various careers participated in the study. The principal data sources were in-depth interviews and a focus group. Although, the study was designed to explore workforce re-entry for displaced workers over the age of 50, the key finding that transitioning to employment pathways differing from previous careers, emerged as most challenging. In addition, post separation perceptions yielded thematic elements concerning pluralistic ageism on the separation from, and the re-entry into the workforce. Primary recommendations include the communication and viable training and re-tooling prior to workforce separation, comprehensive counseling, and awareness of legislative workforce rights, all of which should be disseminated with greater regularity.

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