With the outbreak of the pandemic and the widespread adoption of the work-from-home model, a growing number of people are willing to change their current profession for a more interesting and promising one, or simply to try out something new. This trend has also involved mature individuals, and businesses have started to acknowledge the importance of encouraging mature talents for change and shaping the inclusive labour market environment. In the face of rapid changes in the labour market and technological advancement, experts believe that new skills are valuable. Furthermore, lifelong learning or even reskilling at a later state in life is beneficial to one’s health and mental well-being.
Actively involved in the change
According to the World Economic Forum, nearly 100 million new jobs could be created by 2025, tailored to the division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms. The Forum also highlights that data analysts and IT professionals will replace some of the current positions.
On the flip side of the coin, Eurostat projections suggest that the share of the population aged over 65 in the European Union will reach more than a quarter of the population by 2050. Similar trends can be seen in Lithuania, where, according to the Lithuanian Department of Statistics, more than two-fifths (42%) of the population was over 50 years of age (2021).
With clear trends toward an ageing population, a tight labour market, and the undeniable rise in importance of technology, it is critical to investigate ways to encourage talents to adapt, constantly learn, and challenge themselves in new roles. Even more attention should be drawn to mature professionals, who are often held back from change by societal prejudices.
— Giedrius Dzekunskas, Head of IT Employee Services at Danske Bank Lithuania
Dzekunskas observes that, while greater life expectancy is certainly gratifying, there is less enthusiasm for spending longer time in the labour market. According to him, this is both a challenge and an opportunity. Many industries, particularly hi-tech, are currently experiencing a staffing crisis. Young professionals provide organisations with vitality, yet they frequently leave looking for new challenges. When the employee attrition rate surpasses 20%, it becomes a serious productivity issue for the organisation. Meanwhile, mature talents bring life experience and stability that is so desirable to the teams," comments G. Dzekunskas.
Changing a profession can be good for
It’s no secret that many factors, from financial concerns to others’ opinions and stereotypes, might dissuade people from making substantial life and career changes.
Many people are concerned about their income, insecurity, and quality of life, which might deteriorate temporarily. On the other hand, doing work that brings joy and fulfilment is a significant investment in one’s happiness and health. Changing career can be a way for someone to reinvent themselves as a person, to discover new attributes, to acquire new skills, and maybe even to channel their time and energy into something very meaningful,
— Genovaitė Petronienė, Psychologist
G. Petronienė further points out that the need for reskilling may arise spontaneously or be prompted by circumstances.
"Sometimes it happens that a previous profession just "drains out", and a person loses the ambition and motivation to progress or cannot find the desired job. Later in life, the wish to think about the inner self becomes more of a priority and frequently is no longer enough to gain money, provide for children, or establish oneself in society. A person who is not doing what he or she dreamed of may become unhappy and think that a good life will happen someday — either later or perhaps in a spare time. Changing profession to the desired one might bring the joy of life "here and now," the psychologist impresses on us.
The role of employers
Employers should encourage their employees to strive for change and larger professional options, according to G. Dzekunskas of Danske Bank, one of the country’s top employers.
"A responsible and forward-thinking employer, in addition to focusing on the growth, learning and well-being of its present employees, must also focus on future employees outside the organisation. It is particularly valuable if the employer shares his best practices with society, inspiring people to learn, invest in future skills, and strengthen their universal skills, such as leadership, project management, analytical thinking, IT literacy, and many others – regardless of their chosen profession," remarks G. Dzekunskas.
FuturePros, a talent development programme for students or graduates, as well as reskilling professionals, is one such initiative that has successfully been running for the fourth year. It is a one-year, fully-funded programme with the primary goal of assisting motivated individuals pursuing professional growth in gaining significant practical experience to kick off their careers and providing career opportunities for reskilled professionals.
"While many students and new graduates are interested in participating in the programme, we are also getting noticed by more mature talent. Around 30% of all FuturePros applicants this year were mature ones changing their profession. Their success stories are also inspiring – specialists from the academic world who want to gain practical experience, radically changing professions, for example, from dentist to IT specialist. As well as our colleagues who decide to try a new career path in Tech, are participating in the programme," comments G. Dzekunskas.
The attitude of others should not stop from achieving goals
Ingrida Gabrialavičiūtė, who took advantage of this and other career transition programmes available in Lithuania, and currently combines the new profession of Data Science with a long-term academic career as a psychologist.. The training participant dreamt of integrating her previous knowledge with newly gained abilities while exploring new employment prospects at FuturePros in 2021.
"I have a PhD in psychology with over ten years of experience in academic and scientific work. I eventually wanted to apply my scientific expertise in a practical setting. So I completed the Vilnius Coding School data analytics course, studied independently on DataCamp, Udemy platforms, and participated in the Women Go Tech mentoring programme. That’s how I found out about FuturePros. I realised this was my chance to enter the field I was passionate about," explains I. Gabrialavičiūtė.
Although the career shift was not easy, time-consuming, and met with some scepticism from others around her, the data scientist who continues her career at Danske Bank has no regrets about her decision.
FuturePros programme enabled me to take the initial steps toward becoming a data scientist by allowing me to learn via hands-on experience. I found myself in a secure, welcoming environment where I could observe professionals, perform tasks at my own pace, and receive encouragement from the team. I feel a strong sense of belonging to the community and enjoy exploring my new career path.
— Ingrida Gabrialavičiūtė, Data Scientist