Boomers moving to encore careers | Selection Partners | Executive Recruitment, Melbourne

Boomers moving to encore careers


Many early baby boomers, those now aged 60 or more, are moving away from traditional models of retirement, preferring to remain engaged with the world of work, to use their hard won skills and experience in productive ways, and to earn extra income.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Retirement and Retirement Intentions shows that 13.3% of people aged 45 and over say they will never retire.

By 2030, the average Australian life expectancy is anticipated to be 84.5 and 87.8 for men and women respectively.  While the over 65 age group represented 14% of the population in 2011, the ABS estimates this will be around 24% in 2056.

Generally, we are living healthier for longer, creating a growing retirement period where people can expect to enjoy relatively good health for an extended period beyond 65.

Longer life expectancy, greater health in later life, and extraordinary technological advances are creating a broader range of options than ever before.  Work locations can be anywhere.  The internet, ready access to information and the dramatic growth of online businesses are changing our lives.  Meanwhile, starting a business, and reaching potential clients has never been easier.

Those older baby boomers who reject traditional retirement are taking advantage of these factors to create an ‘encore career’. Better known in the USA where Marc Freedman coined the term, it is seen as a later stage of life combining personal fulfillment, social impact and continued income, enabling people to put their passion to work for the greater good.

A slightly broader concept of the encore career is gaining popularity in Australia.  This encompasses a flexible approach where paid employment or self employment, whether part or full time, is a significant part of the equation.  Often people continue some involvement in their former field of work on a part time basis.  Along with this, they may do pro bono work in areas they wish to support such as the arts, education, charitable organisations and local community and sporting groups.

With around 4.5 million Australians turning 65 over the next decade, the prevalence of encore careers is expected to grow. While some make a seamless transition to the next stage of their lives, others struggle, especially in the early years. 

The rising popularity of encore careers has significant implications, not only for individuals, but for employers, government policy makers and professional services firms.  The early baby boomers are a large group and the numbers following them are even greater. 

Employers and other organisations that recognise the changing demographic and attitudinal landscape and respond by developing high quality, creative and flexible programs will reap the rewards.

Rosemary O’Connor, Director, Encore Careers Australia works with Selection Partners to deliver career transition workshops to organisations who care about the transition of their mature age employees.  For more information contact

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