Older workers & new careers : an exploratory study : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The existing literature of older workers and careers focuses on the challenges for older workers in maintaining employment in the new environment, revealing increased demands to adapt to an environment of uncertainty and decreased job or career security, compounded by age and discriminatory factors. The current career management literature proposes so far under-researched models of sustaining careers in this uncertain environment, including ideas of career resilience, protean career behaviours and career competencies. The findings of this study contributes to the literature a predominantly positive picture of employed older workers: despite exposure to restructuring, redundancies, organisational change and regional economic downturns in the 1990's, most exhibit career behaviours and on going learning in ways that foster their progress and sustain their employment and their careers. Undertaken in a regional setting, themes emerge of detachment from traditional career concepts and practices, flexible patterns of employment, multiple job holding and self-employment. The effective practices of career management suggested by existing models are affirmed and extended. The study uses a qualitative research methodology based on in-depth interviews, using a life history approach. The data is gathered through the career stories of 32 participants in a range of occupations, all of whom are employed older workers. The study reports differing views of career, and distinctive ways of working in a rural regional environment. Using the behaviours derived from the data, the study proposes a model of effective behaviours for the new careers environment. This (PAIL) model proposes proactivity, adaptability, identity awareness and learning as behaviours which most assist the goals and progress of individual career actors; a typology is offered to illustrate and support this model. This study contributes to our understanding of careers in diverse contexts, and contributes valuable empirical data regarding ways in which career actors have achieved work and personal success in the current environment.
Job security, Age discrimination, Career management