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The Value in Developing New Skills at Every Age

Posted on September 24, 2015 by Bill Langston

From time to time, nearly all of us resist or postpone developing new skills and learning how to take advantage of new technology. This can be especially true as we age, even among information technology professionals who have had long and successful careers in an ever changing environment.

According to the Pew Research Center (PRC), approximately 30% of the United States workforce is over 50 years of age.  In another study published this year, the PRC estimated that approximately 59% of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 were still active in the workforce. If you are in this age group, you may be thinking more about the end of your career than about learning new work-related skills.  The simple fact is, however, that staying mentally sharp and developing new skills at work not only raises our value in the workforce, but also helps us stay mentally sharp and productive at home.

The US Social Security Administration says that a man who is age 50 today is likely to live another 32.3 years while a woman age 50 is likely to live to another 35.6 years. That’s the average life expectancy. Many of us will live much longer. Taken another way, if you are in this age group, you probably have as many years in front of you, in or out of the workforce, as you’ve had since you left high school or college. That’s a long time and it will be a whole lot less interesting for those who’ve stopped challenging themselves to learn new things.

Unlike our peers in physically demanding occupations, those of us who work in information technology can, with a commitment to lifelong learning, continue to perform at a high level regardless of our age. That’s cool and important to remember next time you find yourself resisting an opportunity to learn.

References:

Pew Research Center – US Population by Generation

Pew Research Center - US Labor Force by Generation, May 11, 2015

US Social Security Administration Life Expectancy Calculator

 

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