Challenges older women face re-entering the workforce: expanding career opportunities

Carpenter, Wendy (2021) Challenges older women face re-entering the workforce: expanding career opportunities. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Older women face many employment barriers when looking to re-enter the labour market at a later stage in their life. These barriers can significantly challenge their economic and social independence. In some cases, they can be at risk for poverty and isolation. Their career trajectories move downward as they face decreasing salary scales, less mobility and lower status. In order to understand some of the impacts to this group, this research takes place in Ontario the largest provincial employer of full time workers in Canada. The research problem explored the employment barriers older women face and specifically focused on what could be done to assist these women as they transition in and out of the labour market. The research literature available does not pay sufficient attention to women of this age group and it is unclear as to how the individual, government, education sectors and the businesses could leverage career development initiatives to mitigate the risks for all stakeholders‟ but particularly the older women. It is, therefore, important to investigate what can be done to help older women in work transition. The purpose of this research was to determine challenges, if any, that older women (after the age of 50) face when re-entering the workforce and to explore what knowledge, skills and tools are needed to help them overcome barriers to employment. To investigate the problem, an interpretative qualitative study was undertaken using unstructured interviews with Career Coaches and Re-employment Consultants familiar with helping older women find work. It was important to obtain candid and open perspectives from career development professionals to inform practice. Unstructured interviews allowed for in-depth responses and examples to enrich the outcomes. The research questions include: Do older women face challenges when looking to re-enter the workforce? What skills and knowledge can support older women looking for work? What tools or training are challenging for older women to access or find? What tools or training can be enhanced or created to help older women look for or find work? These research questions are critical to uncovering specific challenges along with possible opportunities for support, such as coaching and/or job searching tools that can be enhanced or created to expand skills and knowledge related to older women finding work and being successful in their career trajectories. This thesis supports the findings in the research literature that older women face employment barriers and can benefit from career support and guidance. The outcomes draw our attention to the success of holistic and differentiated career support initiatives. Specific areas of focus for career planning practice should include confidence building, development of social capital and networking skills along with cost and time effective training on job finding skills and job skills training, if needed. These findings are relevant to women for their own research on career planning, as well as for coaching programs, employment hiring practices along with government policy and relevant legislation. These practice implications will help women navigate later life re-employment and guide them to achieve successful career trajectories.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15268
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 94-97).
Keywords: older women, labour market barriers, inequality, career development, career coaching and guidance
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2021
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Older women--Employment--Ontario; Poverty--Ontario; Career plateaus--Ontario; Career development--Ontario; Age and employment--Ontario; Older women--Ontario--Social conditions; Older women--Ontario--Economic conditions; Vocational guidance--Ontario.

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