The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday

Early retirement is not on the cards

With the Government desperate to get midlifers back to work, Eleanor Mills may have the tools to help


On the evidence of last week’s Budget, the Government is desperate to get midlifers back into the workplace. And there’s no doubt that some of the financial incentives are tempting. But some of us may still have doubts, not least about whether we are ready – in terms of skills and outlook – to get back into the hurly-burly of work life.

The chancellor has announced a kind of midlife MOT – so would you pass, or are you fit only for the career scrap heap?

The Government is proposing a review for workers in their 40s and 50s to help them “take stock of their finances, skills and health... and build financial resilience”, which has so far been offered to those on Universal Credit through job centres. It is now to be expanded and improved, and they are aiming to reach 40,000 people a year.

What Jeremy Hunt has recognised is that because we are all living longer, the old model of three-stage lives – education, work, retirement – no longer works (the Government knows this because it is sitting on a pensions time bomb). But think about it in relation to your own life: do you know anyone who expects to be at the same company, or even doing the same job, from their 20s to their 70s? No, quite.

Those of us who do get a good run at a career rarely get more than a couple of decades. I am a good example. I worked as a senior executive for the same company for 23 years, but was made redundant just before the pandemic. It was a massive shock, which made me, at 49, completely rethink and reboot my whole life.

The first thing I discovered was that there was nothing out there to help me, so with President Obama’s words “We are the change that we seek” ringing in my ears, and knowing from having been a newspaper columnist for 10 years that things affecting me were also likely to be besetting others, I set up a new platform for midlifers to help them transition into their next phase, the third quarter of life. I called it and it provides tools and inspiratio­n to help with that midlife pivot.

As a result, the past two years of my life have been a full-time boot camp on the current thinking on ageing, midlife and what we need to make a success of our lives from here on. I’ve done the reading and met the leading experts in this area, and with their input I have come up with a midlife MOT questionna­ire that should help you to understand how well prepared you are for the workplace – and what to do if certain aspects of your CV need a brush-up.

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