Q: What do you think us old folks should do about this phenomenon? I'm already 58 and am likely to be working longer than ever. I am too old to learn IT skills. What are my options??


Nigel Dalton from REA Group says: Sitting here as a 54 year old, I'm not sure I agree with your sentiment! My key value comes from what I have learned in the last 12 months, not the last 35 years of work. I am as good as the next person who has focused on the latest tech and work developments for the last few years. You need a 20 year old mentor, and start with a tablet computer using Instagram to send the modern equivalent of old-fashioned postcards to friends and family. My 84 year old Dad can manage it, so dive in!

Maggie Hill from Foundation for Young Australians says: There's a few ways you could think about this! If you're concerned that your industry is shrinking because of automation, it might be useful to consider how your skills are transferable to different jobs and industries. Take a look at our report The New Work Mindset, which looks at how transferable skills are. It's also worth noting that IT skills aren't the only skills that will be useful in our changing world of work. Enterprise skills, like communication, critical thinking, collaboration and digital literacy are increasingly important. Maybe think about which of these skills you're already using and how you can continue to develop them.

Jim Stanford from The Australia Institute says: Your situation unfortunately is typical of many excperienced workers today. They are being pushed to work longer in life (both by policy changes, like the later retirement age, and by financial compulsion), but their jobs are made insecure by restructuring, technology, globalisation, and more. Individually you can do your best to build networks, advertise the value of your experience, find ways your skills can be applied in new settings. But this problem will require a collective solution at the macro level: more emphasis on job creation (so employers will be pushed to hire both older and younger workers), supports for training and relocation, and supporting early retirement for workers displaced by change instead of requiring people to work longer.

Fiona McKenzie from Australian Futures Project says: It is never too late. Don’t be intimidated - most IT skills are ‘intuitive’ and just take a little practice. Lifelong learning and the ability to keep reinventing yourself is important. This includes career planning, which is not just for graduates by crucial for mid-life and later-life careers as well. Another skill is entrepreneurship. Senior (over 55s) entrepreneurs are Australia's fastest-growing segment of entrepreneurs. This is by a mix of necessity and choice where people are taking back control of their working life by starting their own business. https://theconversation.com/australias-next-wave-of-startups-could-be-from-the-over-55s-47403 In terms of employment and skills, there are a range of incentives available. E.g. Restart is a government program with a financial incentive of up to $10,000 available to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over. https://www.employment.gov.au/restart-help-employ-mature-workers-0 There are also often federal government grants available for community groups and not-for-profit providers who run training courses for mature age workers.