Paul Ford - The Coach Space

Retirement extinction: What’s your career plan for later life?

By 2050, one in four persons living in Europe and Northern America could be aged 65 or over. In 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 or above outnumbered children under five years of age globally. The number of persons aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.

United Nations 2019 [1]

Ageing population

For those of us who are looking forward to the ageing process, it is now a given that we are on a trajectory to live longer. Statistics show that in our lifetime the birth rate is slowing down. Within the next 30 years, there will be far more older people than young people due to improved health and nutrition in the Western world. 

No default State Pensionable Age in UK

The UK government saw this population trend approaching and abolished the default state pensionable age of 65 as far back as 2011 (BBC, 1 October 2011) [2]. 

This suggests that the state pension pot is shrinking and there won’t be as much money to go around as it will need to be shared with a much larger pool of people. In fact, there is a likelihood that many of us won’t have much of a retirement at all.  

Working into mature years

So, what does all of this mean? It means that a good proportion of us will choose to remain in the workforce into our mature years. We are likely to continue to work into our sixties, and maybe our seventies and eighties, either out of financial necessity or to keep our minds and bodies active. 

Retirement could be a thing of the past. Working through it is the new present.

Alisa Salamon

Retrain or find an appropriate ‘Senior’ job

While some of us in our mature years will have the inclination to retrain to pursue a new career path, learning new skills and creating new and exciting futures for ourselves to help make a difference. Others, perhaps limited by health and fitness, will want to find a flexible, stress-free role, keeping ourselves physically and mentally agile and bringing in a reliable income. 

Possible ideas for exciting new career opportunities

If you are planning to create a new and exciting future for yourself in later life and are thinking of retraining, you have a realistic shot of upskilling and equipping yourself to work for many more years in a new role. 

Below is a list of 5 possible inspirational roles that will help you to reinvent yourself, benefit the job market by building on your experience and background, and allow you to do something you love.

  1. Work as an executive or leadership coach: Work at your own pace, helping senior leaders within organizations to drive performance, clarify goals, accelerate career growth, help develop organizational efficiencies. 
  2. Train as a teacher: Benefit from tax-free bursaries offered by the UK government to support trainee teachers. Reinvigorate your motivation and find a sense of purpose by working with young people.
  3. Become a librarian: Put your meticulousness to good use by training to be a librarian. Work in a public, school or university library, spending time organizing and managing cataloguing systems and dealing with the general public.
  4. Become a counsellor: Help and support others using your empathic skills. Work flexibly to your own schedule and work with the kinds of clients you choose to see.
  5. Launch a small business: Follow your passion and create your own schedule by setting up a small business based around the thing you love to do.

Possible work choices to support a lacklustre pension

Below is a list of 5 popular career choices for people who want to work flexibly into their mature years, earning a dependable income in a stress-free role. 

  • Work as a consultant: Work part-time and leverage your background and experience, offering your professional expertise on a contract basis.
  • Retail sales assistant: Receive a dependable income, potential employee discounts, and a lot of social contact in exchange for a flexible schedule. 
  • Teaching assistant: Work with young people, supporting teachers, and benefit from long school holidays and finishing early.
  • Market researcher: Conduct surveys either face-to-face, on the telephone, or online via Swagbucks or Survey Junkie, and receive a respectable return.
  • Virtual assistant: Draw on your vast experience and utilize a range of skills to help small business owners who are seeking to outsource tasks they don’t want to perform themselves. For example, copywriting, bookkeeping, managing calendars and email inboxes, preparing reports, hotel and travel booking, etc.

There is also the option of volunteering for example, for a charity, in the community or in a care home. Volunteering satisfies the desire to do meaningful work and give back.

Transitioning careers

If you are planning a career move in the future, whether you want to retrain or do something less demanding, it is a scary prospect. Seeking the help of a career coach to support you through the period of transition is a great way of finding clarity around the decisions you make, working through self-doubt, gaining resilience, and partnering with someone who can help you with the practical stuff, like writing your CV and applying for jobs.

Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself and do something you love that will pay your bills, especially in the future, when your pension can’t.

This article was written in honour of older people to celebrate the recent International Day of Older Persons on 1 October, 2019.


  1. World population prospects the 2019 Revision 2019
  2. Compulsory retirement age at 65 fully abolished BBC (1 October 2011) 
  3. Five facts about… older people at work Office for National Statistics (2016) 
  4. Work, family, marriage – how has life changed for the children of 2000 reaching adulthood? Office for National Statistics (2018) 
  5. Living longer and old age dependency. What does the future hold? Office for National Statistics (2019) 
  6. Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, and Earnings Growth Bureau of Labor Statistics (22 August 2019) 
  7. Later life UK Factsheet Age UK (2018)

Alisa Salamon

Alisa is a certified career transition coach based in the UK who helps people carve out a new career or take their existing career to new heights. Email to find out more.

Add comment