Are you one of those people who has got to the point in life where your body is no longer able to keep up with what your job requirements demand, yet that job is all you really know how to do? If so, this can be a stressful, even scary time for you as you ponder what job or career you will pursue now.
This kind of situation is actually very common, especially in positions requiring manual labour skills such as the construction field. I’ve listened to many a person tell me their stories and they share a similar theme; the person started working early in life out of necessity, often not completing high school. The money early on was good and they were young, strong, enjoyed the physical demands of the job and how it kept them in good shape. Then as time passed, they felt the aches and pains lingered on longer when the job was done and eventually they were in constant pain reaching the point where they had to quit because of back and joint pain.
The situation above is very real; the mind is still willing but the body can’t take the physical demands of the job anymore and there are younger and stronger people coming onto the job sites who will work for less money and these combine to push the person out of work. Now in their late 40’s and early 50’s, here is the person left wondering what else they could possibly be qualified to do. The resume doesn’t look all that impressive with less than high school education and a ton of experience doing construction or general labour work which they can no longer do hence the dilemma.
So is this you and your situation? Someone you know perhaps? This is a tough one isn’t it and no one knows better than you the struggle to figure out what you’re going to do with the years you still want to be productively working doing something. At your point in life going back to school to get your grade 12 diploma is scary too; after all you’ve only got your long ago memories of high school to go on and if it was difficult to finish school when you were in your teens, you imagine it can’t be easier now that your 50ish!
Well let’s look at some options shall we? First of all, getting your grade 12 completed is an option. It doesn’t mean you have to do this, but it is an option isn’t it? What you might not know is that if you’ve only completed grade 9 or 10 and figure you haven’t got 2 or 3 years to spend in a classroom at this point in life, relax; you don’t. You’ll find that adult education schools in your area likely have programs in place that will recognize your life experience and give you credit for this. Could be you only need to take 3 or 4 courses to get that grade 12 diploma and your classmates will be adults just like you, not 17 year olds. As employers often see grade 12 as a basic requirement, getting yours could be the right move to start with.
The next thing to figure out is what exactly you’re going to do now career-wise. For some people, this is a crippling problem; all you’re qualified to do is what you’ve done and you haven’t got the ability to do that anymore. First of all, do you want to work in the same field of work anymore? If you could take your knowledge and move into a leadership role or teach younger workers what you know, would you take that kind of job? Or do you want or need to get right out of that line of work altogether?
Here’s some good advice; take one or two computer classes for people who know very little or nothing about computers. In 2016, you have to have basic computer skills to even apply for jobs. Don’t plan on just walking in and introducing yourself and asking for a chance to work. Yeah this kind of disappeared in the 90’s and except for the odd place, it’s never coming back. Today, you have to apply online or use email. You should head on down to an employment centre in your community as well as adult education schools and look into adult computer classes for beginners. You likely won’t be a computer expert, but you need more skills than you have at the moment for sure.
My final piece of advice – just to keep things short and cut to the key things – get some help from an Employment Centre where will find Job Coaches, Employment Counsellors or Career Advisors. I’m one of them but this isn’t about self-promotion. (If it was I’d name my own Centre or give you my contact details). Look, you’re an expert at what you’ve done all your life, and these career professionals are experts at what they do which is helping people like you figure out what to do next in life. You may just find their services are free anyhow.
You and I both know you want to be productive and useful. Getting the above help will keep you relevant, help you realize what you’ve got to offer and craft your resume to positions you’d genuinely be interested in.
Don’t put off getting the help you need from people who deal with people just like you every day!