I’m going to be politically incorrect here. But there is a good reason why it is hard for the 50+ to find new work.
When I was in my early thirties, a wise fellow who was a little older than me said: “Learn all you can before you are 40. After 40, it gets harder to put new stuff in your head.”
And the age, 40 was the time when learning new things became more difficult for me. I am 60 now — and just hate learning curves! And I’m someone who had learned to operate at least 20 different engineering software packages in my life.
My experience in the petroleum industry is that engineers need to play to spend about 15 years in engineering. At that point, the skills they learned in their first five years is obsolete. Unfortunately many engineers who stay on often do not make the transition to the new technology very well. They prefer the old ways — because it requires less effort. But the employer gets behind the times by keeping the old engineer at the desk.
Rather engineers need to plan for their eventual engineering obsolescence. Getting into corporate management is a good choice. Let the young engineers do the real work with new ways, yet watch them closely. Or get into a small business.
When an old engineer gets laid off, the skills are no longer there.
So to paraphrase Ghostbusters when an up-to-date technology change is required: “Who you gonna call?”
The young guns! They will pick up the new stuff a lot quicker.
I think we need to accept that, like our bodies, our mental abilities start to fade with time. This fading happens sooner than we want to believe.
And just to ensure, I’m hoping my current job (not in engineering any more) lasts another eight years. Then I can retire. But if I get laid off between now and then, I’ll be working retail.