Aging & Older Adult Services

According to new research from Civic Ventures, 31 million people ages 44 to 70 want encore careers combining personal meaning, continued income and social impact, but they have trouble making the financial transition.

Civic Ventures helps people explore encore careers, a concept that is gaining importance as life spans expand. The organization released new research suggesting that it takes an average of 18 months to transition from one job to another – a period that often occurs after a retirement or a layoff in the form of a gap year.

Many people dream about launching a second career in a field they have always wanted to try. But the transition into an encore career can be a long and costly process. Most people earn a significantly lower amount of money (43 percent) or no money at all (24 percent) during the transition from one job to the next, according to a recent MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures survey.

In Australia, the profound change in life expectancy has created a time span of 20 or 30 years between the traditional retirement age of many workers and their old age. Active older Australians need training to prepare them for encore careers. "If the old golden years dream was the freedom from work, the dream of this new wave is the freedom to work," says Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Civic Ventures.

One of the most obvious sectors for new jobs is health care. And you won't have to become a gerontologist at age 65 to find a position. "There are certain areas in the workplace where having life experiences and having witnessed and lived through some health events yourself is useful," says Marci Alboher, vice president at Civic Ventures.

Transitioning to an encore career can be a lengthy and expensive process, and more support mechanisms are needed to help post 50s bridge the gap. Four in five people who experienced time with little to no income, reported a gap of six months or more. Civic Ventures is advocating for more short-term, part-time and paid fellowships at nonprofits that lead to encore careers, as well as lobbying for tax-advantaged savings vehicles to help support older workers changing careers.

Encouraged by the 2010 health care act’s emphasis on primary care, care coordination and chronic disease management, pilot programs that rely on the talent and experience of boomers are emerging to try to improve the fragmented medical system. Many programs rely on coaches, navigators and advocates. The paid or unpaid work they do is well suited to boomers seeking encore careers, said Phyllis N. Segal, a vice president of Civic Ventures.

Service In The Second Half of Life

This post is part of a series sponsored by Fast Company and Catchafire on the future of service in America.

People who are between midlife and old age are looking for another round of service with the same motivations that young people have--to give back, to have an adventure, to acquire experience, and to gain credentials and credibility.


Our notions of old age are old fashioned, reflecting a time when the typical 60-something was physically worn out from laboring in an auto plant or some other factory. In recent years, scholars in a range of academic disciplines report seeing signs of a new stage of life between the prime working years and full retirement. (This article also appeared in National Journal.)

For job seekers over 50, what they did in their off hours before becoming unemployed matters as much their past job performance. The organization 55 Plus Yonkers Connections, headed by Civic Ventures Launch Pad finalist Cathy Elser, demonstrates how volunteering can lead to an encore career.

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