The upside of middle-age
The middle- aged work force has to counter the notion that they are not productive due to their out- of- touch approach, their undone homework, arguable bottom- line value and their inability to speed up with everything new happening in the industry. These notions simply oppose the competitive advantages of an older employee, in the form of expert guidance provided to younger colleagues or a better work environment created by a skilled and experienced supervisor.
It is also argued that when older workers lag behind on current knowledge and skills necessary in their industry, then it is not discrimination but an expected move by the businesses which do not hire them.
Even the Fortune’s surveys report that 43 is the average age found at which people’s productivity peaked. This implies that the hundreds of CEOS asked, view anyone older as a potentially overpaid, underperforming drag on the company.
In the post- recession era, the overall job market is recovering to a large extent, but unfortunately middleaged workers have not been included in the revival up to a satisfactory level. In this regard, employment counsellors hold a number of reasons responsible; among these labour- market trends and the type of available jobs are important. The labourmarket trends favour lower paid and highly mobile young workers and experienced older workers who are willing to accept lower wages for flexible schedules. Moreover, among the types of jobs, there are mostly lower- paying service- industry jobs making up a big part of the available positions. For instance, restaurants and fast food chains have remained top hiring employers, as these jobs often offer uncertain working hours and few benefits.
But, these jobs still remain unattractive for middle- aged workers who had more stable jobs before the recession. These workers are being welcomed by companies offering contract positions or commission- based work.
Apart from all the disparities, counsellors have a new suggestion that those having lost their jobs at the peak of their careers must reinvent their careers for the second half of their lives. A management counsellor, Peter Drucker, says that in the new millennium “Either our careers or financial lives would be derailed by rapid, unforeseen events, or we’d stay in the same job too long and burn out. Or, we’d finally retire only to find ourselves bored into an early grave. Why? Because we’re all knowledge workers in the 21st Century, and the brains of knowledge workers are never really finished or worn out.” This idea is supported by neuroscience researches which suggest that old dogs can learn new tricks, and that they can do it better than the young ones. It has also been elaborated in the book, “Boundless Potential: Transform Your Brain, Unleash Your Talents, Reinvent Your Work in Midlife and Beyond”, on how scientific research connects with the real life experiences of successful midlife transformations.
Thus, experts conclude that human brains are wired not for retirement, but for constant reinvention. The middle- aged workforce can tap extraordinary creative and intellectual powers in the second half of life — if they put in the required work.