The Time is Now for Free Independent Career Guidance at Any Age

By Kate Bryant

Writer Annie Dillard famously said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” For many of us, a large portion of our days is spent at work; in fact, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. With people living longer and the state pension age set to rise that figure is likely to increase further still.

Combined with the 20th-century construct of traditionally front-loading your education; working through the schooling system, graduating into the world of work, pursuing a career with the intention of climbing up the ladder to reach your assigned goal; it’s no wonder people may at some point in their working life begin to feel stagnated or simply in need of a change.  It’s unrealistic to expect that the job you decided to pursue at 21 is the same as the job you will be doing or want to do by the time you’re 45.

Consider also, the importance of social mobility; it’s fantastic that so many businesses, including our own are working extensively to create a culture which supports diversity and inclusion as well as investing in young talent via schemes such as Kickstart. There is a wide range of support for those aged 16-24, but we must not forget those older workforce members, particularly those stuck in low paid work.

So no matter your background, career history or life stage, how do you find out what to do next?

A recent review by the Gatsby Foundation concluded that the provision currently available in the adult careers guidance space is confusing, fragmented and unclear to users.

We have worked intensively with the public to explore what longer lives means to them and identified a key area for focus and investment to enable people to live better, longer lives to be – Free independent career guidance at any age.

Phoenix Insights are now on a mission to help more people access careers guidance in midlife.

Why now?

  • There are increasing high level concerns about skills shortages and economic inactivity, particularly amongst those aged 50+. Better, clearer provision of careers guidance and services could enable those aged 50+ to re-enter the workforce or help those in work, transition into alternative roles more suited to their life stage and personal circumstances.
  • Evidence suggests that post-pandemic early retirement and exit from the UK workforce of those aged 50-64 is driven largely by negative attitudes to work, lack of flexible working, and perceived financial comfort enabling people to retire early
  • People in midlife want to change careers, but the prospect is daunting. 51% of older workers want to change jobs.  Women are particularly receptive to support that would help ‘de-risk’ big life changes like changing jobs.
  • There has been significant progress in careers guidance for young people in education which has not yet been matched for adults.

We want to help more people to feel inspired and empowered about their careers, because we believe this is a key enabler in helping people improve, enjoy and extend their working lives.

Join us on our journey to create a coalition of partners providing understandable, extensive and clear careers guidance for all.  We would love to hear from you with any great examples or experiences of adult careers advice and guidance, please share any knowledge you have and signpost us to wonderful advice you have received or organisations that are working in this space.  Please get in touch with

We may all be living and working longer but life is still short. Make sure you’re doing something that matters to you.

Kate Bryant is a Public Engagement Manager in the Phoenix Insights team. With a background in Executive support roles within the finance sector Kate is a real-life example of career pivoting. With a passion to help others do the same and values-driven, Kate’s work is focussed on supporting all things ‘careers’, especially for those in their later working lives.

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