Redirection: New Later Life Career Research Project Launched!

Planet Longevity is pleased to share in our congratulations to one of our contributors on this thought leadership panel. Suzanne Cook has now launched a new research project funded by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC). Titled the Redirection: Work and Later Life Career Development Project, this one-year project will, among other things, make recommendations to assist professionals who deliver career services to older adults in their later life career development.

Suzanne Cook is a social gerontologist and an adjunct professor at York University in the Department of Sociology and in the YU Centre for Aging Research and Education (YU-CARE). She has a shared interest in this subject area with many of us who have been working directly in the field of career development and seen first-hand, how this theme of later life careers has become more prominent over the last decade or so.

Career professionals work in different venues such as college, university and community based career centres, to private sector career & talent management firms and individual coaching practices with private clients. One struggle for professionals, who work with clients in their later life stages, is to find the right way to position relevant language around later life careers in a world where a term like “older workers” still tends to feed a stigma from an old narrative.

Attitudes to work, retirement, aging and longevity are not always consistent for everybody. Depending on how and where a career professional finds a client in their work-life journey, they have to take into account the client’s personal situation, their unique needs and desires and their current take on their potential. It may become a question of how creatively and progressively the professional helps them by moving away from outmoded frames of reference.

The margins have shifted in terms of how long and in what way people will choose to work in the future – and it is after all a personal decision. I support the view that there is no crisp end to work at any stage of later life, and this also depends, now and in the future, on how we choose to describe what work, a workplace and a workforce is. For many this time now is about paving the way for an extended lifetime beyond traditional expectations of a retirement.

“Redirection” is Suzanne’s operative word in her endeavour to help shift the mind-set of those in later life career, as well as those who are in a professional position to help them better articulate their options. There is both a creative and pragmatic side to career conversations, a push, pull and probe approach. One of the more pragmatic questions in this new frame of reference thus becomes “how are you going to finance your longevity?” Now there is a stretch of thinking.

As Suzanne Cook continues her work over the next year with CERIC, Planet Longevity will provide any timely project updates and at the same time help facilitate her in the dissemination of the project’s activities and findings.
Mark Venning

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