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Older professionals, learning and practice

Stephen Billett

pp. 1125-1159

Globally, workforce is aging. Workers aged over 50 years are becoming an increasingly significant and large component of national workforces, including the professions. This situation is likely to remain the case for the next few decades. Despite workplaces becoming increasingly reliant on older workers, the distribution of opportunities for support, professional development and advancement belies that fact. However, the situation confronting older professionals appears more nuanced and dual. On one hand, many professionals report little or no age discrimination and high levels of opportunities for advancement, should they wish it. On the other hand, they are most likely to retire early and make their own decisions about the duration and intensity of working lives and how they engaged in continuing education programs. They also largely report being active lifelong learners, whose work life learning is shaped by work requirements and challenges. Consequently, considerations for ongoing learning for older professional workers are premised on combinations of opportunities, motivation and capability/capacity (self-efficacy, personal agency), in ways that are quite distinct from other categories of older workers. The chapter proposes that the ongoing development and employability of older professionals is likely to be central to national economies in decades to come. It is necessary to have an adequate fit between provisions of various forms of learning opportunities in and outside workplaces, to support individual skills currency and national innovation capacity. Distinctive for older professionals is a high level of personal choices available for their work and learning, necessitating a concerted public and private effort, in broad cooperation among relevant partners, when seeking solutions for extended job-careers in line with prolonged life-spans.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-8902-8_41

Full citation:

Billett, S. (2014)., Older professionals, learning and practice, in S. Billett, C. Harteis & H. Gruber (eds.), International handbook of research in professional and practice-based learning, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 1125-1159.

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