I’ve been reading this morning about comments from the universities minister, David Willetts, that suggest the government wants pensioners to return to education because it will make them 'more employable'.


Read the article for yourself here.


It’s got me thinking, education and training courses keep skills up to date and would seem to be the most obvious way to ensure you have the greatest possible chance of securing work in a competitive workplace…so as an approach it is constructive and it does make sense. But at the same time, I’m sure many people will have a number of issues with this suggestion.

It can appear patronising, unrealistic due to the financial element of studying, unrealistic due to family commitments (many older people also support their children and grandchildren as well as working themselves) and, as the article I read pointed out – it may not actually make you all that more employable after all due to latent ageism in the job market.


What do other people think?

As an older person would you like to go to university as a mature student – either for the first time or for another degree? If so, what would you like to study? Would you like to retrain to change careers, or are there any topics you'd like to learn about for the sake of it? Do you think going back to university in your 60s sounds like a good idea?

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I'd love the idea of going back to university - either to get another degree, or to study/research for a PhD. Unfortunately for David Willets, however, at 65 I have no interest in becoming more "employable" but I would like the opportunity to study something I find interesting and exciting for its own sake.

I quite fancy Geology or Photography (my existing degree and M.A. are in Psychology.

The new adult loan system is an opportunity worth exploring.  I too would love to do a PhD and the resultant debt would, at my age (64), probably never get repaid (Oh Dear!) :-D

Of course, the whole notion continues to reflect the brain-dead government thinking (any party) that plagues our country.  
1.  If you did a masters some years ago it's probably equal to a doctorate these days.
2.  As there are many post grad 20-30 somethings out there stacking shelves in supermarkets, the market for 60+ grads / post grads / post doctorates must be limited.

On the other hand, there is nothing stopping anyone undertaking a body of study on their own accord and publishing the results using the web.  OK, there is no certificate to decorate your walls but you gain considerable kudos amongst those who really matter i.e. your peers and true academics.

 I read with some humour about the notion of older people and the view that they should be encouraged to go back to university for re-training or for another degree. While this suggestion has some merit, where in this class riven notion do the retired industrial workforce come in. In the first instance, why after breaking your body with heavy labour and years of financial insecurity would anyone wish to either continue working or seek additional training to allow them to do so.This notion is  fine if you have laboured over a desk or held a non physical intensive work placement, but for many working-class people fifty years of manual work has rendered them both physically knackered and dreaming only of a retirement supported by a reasonable income and time to enjoy what time they have left on this earth. As a sixty-four years old ex industrial worker I belong to the ranks of the  invisible, the deaf, the blind and those increasingly  immune to the derogatory, ageist comments and behaviour expressed by our politicians, health care professionals and anybody with a stereotyped, backward, ageist belief regarding the older person. While I am happy for anyone of any age to continue with  their education for as long as they wish,  I am content to drink till I fall down, maintain the right to be negative and cynical, to swear and never work another day in my no doubt limited life.  



Love it John - Totally agree and I could not have said it better myself.  Sad individuals like me may hanker to do more "quals" (mostly in my case so that I can challenge the establishment) but the whole concept of working till you drop is clearly some work-shy political *ick's concept of taking the water. 

"I am content to drink till I fall down, maintain the right to be negative and cynical, to swear and never work another day in my no doubt limited life. "  I'm with you all the way.... :-D

Wonderful comment John :D
I am an ex Royal Mail worker - having worked 100+ hours per week for years - 36 hour shifts over 7/24 etc etc.

Now I am disabled with heart conditions but would still like to work in a non-physical work environment- however the ageism out there is appalling - even amongst the so-called disabilty support organisations.

at the age of 62 I would love to continue an interrupted "education" but see  little chance of that on a veryl imited income (so much for paying in for 40 + years - the biggest scam of all?)

I wonder how many older workers (NOT volunteers!!!)  "Grey Pride" employs? 

Certainly I didnt see many employee profiles for older peoples here?

We all just might as well eat drink and be merry because there is nothing else for us in this "bright young things" age - and once we fall into the hands of the N(non)HS we might as well commit suicide anyway as be abused and neglected by "professionals"...

Never got the chance of a degree in my first life - would LOVE to do one but how does one finance this if unwaged?

Couldn't even get help when I was ill, because my OH works, despite having worked my butt off from the age of 16.

Now in need of money, not more debt.

Despite the government "commitment" to "Life long learning", they have now made access to learning for adults (over 24) difficult unless you are a lottery winner.  However, you should try:

Link 1

Link 2 

Link 3

where you may find something that suits you and your circumstances.  If you don't earn 21K a year you may never be required to pay it back. :-D  Good luck.

Thank you so much for the information Alan - you're very kind.

Sadly, all cost money that I don't have access to except the bursaries and they aren't appropriate to my skillset.  

I've checked these options out before as I've always had the idea on a back burner.  I guess our generation are a bit of 'meat in the sandwich' as I see it, we were given nothing  but are having to support our children until well into their thirties and then beyond with child care provision.  For some of us there has been little independant life.  Not moaning, just stating a fact.  I paid for my keep as soon as I started earning (had to leave college as parents couldn't/wouldn't support me) married with own house by 20 and have worked my butt off ever since, trying to ensure that my kids had the best start I could provide. Then I looked after elderly parents (also whilst working full time) and once they had 'gone' and I had a little respite, was made redundant so started a small business. This was flourishing but eventually scuppered by more family commitments (they always come first)  and got them sorted just in time to succumb to double depression and other health issues. No benefits available for me (of course) so got myself better (literally) eventually then found myself being the childminder for my two grandbabbies.  Much as I enjoyed this it was very hard work for an older lady - 11 hours a day and no real breaks and now the lack of my salary for those years has caught up.   Going to have to look for a job but at my age and health history who is going to want me?   I don't know what to do as we desperately need an extra income but I feel resentful that my original aspirations to become an artist will not ever be realized.  I'm a bit fed up being wonderwoman and sorting everyone else's problems out whilst neglecting my own emotional welfare.  

Oops, so sorry for the epistle - didn't intend it but I'm sure it will resound with other ladies too.

I have worked in childcare for over twenty years and I am a Manager, and have recently been told that I must do a degree to keep my job, The cost of this is 2,000 pounds and I have to do this in my own time over two years I have taken this to Scottish Parliament and received reply that I need to do this to be able to be considered as a professional Leading Practitioner, I will be 65 when I finish this degree  and will be retired by then

Hi Lilian. I read your contribution with increasing dismay. As a recently retired Social Worker (Child Protection) I find myself sinking ever deeper in a mire of angry despair and frustration that in societies drive to "professionalise" everything, mature workers such as yourself are often seen as somehow not having enough in the way of professional qualifications after possibly a lifetime spent working in your own particular discipline. Over the years I worked as a Social Worker I observed the drive to professionalise the job to the extent that many young middle-class Social Workers aged around 22 were unleashed on the unsuspecting ranks of Glasgows' working-class.  Experience went right out the window and buzz words, tick box assessments and the greasy pole replaced traditional Social Work values in the drive to save money, build careers and somehow convince the politicians and public that Social Work......works.  

 I think it is indicative of present times that the older person is not only portrayed as having limited or no use, but that years of experience also  has no value. I also believe that workers in your position are deliberately driven out by unjust rules and unfair demands.

I hope things go well for you in the future.   

Again, I find myself in agreement with you John.  It's happening across the spectrum - health, adult education etc. and lots of activities that are not actual professions.  Perhaps the rise of these "young bright things" are the reason that so many of our industries and services are disappearing down the tubes at a rapid rate of knots?  Ignorance, arrogance and over-inflated ego's are so destructive.

Shocking that ANY employer should make this type of demand - it's blackmail surely?  Pay for a qual yourself or your job is at risk....  Should be a criminal offence.


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