Avon calling for the over 50s

If there was ever any doubt about how older workers have been left high and dry by the economic downturn, then figures from the Direct Selling Association (DSA) should put those doubts firmly to rest. It has announced that a record number of the over 50s are turning to companies like Avon, Kleneeze and Betterware to help make ends meet.

But should we be worried by this trend?

Army of doorstep workers
It's not just the Camerons who are likely to find grandparents on the doorstep (pictured), the DSA says that the number of people over the age of 50 on their books has hit a record 29%. And this is a significant announcement. The companies represented by DSA make up by far the largest source of part time work in the UK - with more than 400,000 involved in the industry.
This means, therefore, that it isn't just an influx of a few hundred people with a keen interest in selling lipstick, this is a huge demographic change that reveals a fundamental change in our society.

The future of work
People over the age of 50 may no longer be safe in their jobs. They are too expensive to keep on, and often their skills are being replaced with new technology which requires expensive retraining. Why keep on the over 50, when you can employ someone younger who already has the cutting-edge skills and is prepared to work all hours for peanuts?

Once you hit the age of 50s there's a much higher chance you will be asked to leave the workforce, and once you are on the scrapheap there's a much higher chance you will stay there. The DSA says 44% of unemployed over 50s have been in this position for over a year.

The answer
It means we're all going to have to think differently about our careers. We need to appreciate that life is going to change well before retirement, and in the 20 odd years between our 50th birthdays and the day we can finally draw a state pension, we're going to have to be cunning in order to find work.

It's going to require a massive rethink, for many it will mean retraining in the midst of life, and for others it will mean making the financial plans to ensure you are able to change your life at the time your employer decides you are surplus to requirements.

For some people this will mean part-time jobs selling door to door, but for those with the luxury of having a bit more time to plan it could mean having the career you always dreamed of, making some real fundamental changes for the better, and making the most of all of your talents.

But what do you think? Do you still expect to be working in your 50s, and how long do you think your employer is going to be happy to have you around? Let us know in the comments.

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