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Over 50? It is never too late to begin a fresh career
09 March 2015
Is 50 too old to start a new career? Monica Bellucci doesn’t think so. Born in 1964, she is the choice of director Sam Mendes to play the latest Bond girl, due to arrive on our screens this year in the 007 film, Spectre.
Never mind that this might be a shortlived career (from memory, few Bond girls make it through more than one movie unscathed). But it is one worth commenting on, if for no other reason that she is four years older than her co-star, Daniel Craig.
This is not going to be a column about the merits or otherwise of younger lovers. More the merits of a new career at 50+. I know what it is like starting a career at 50; I filmed the first series of SuperScrimpers in my 50th year. Had I known I was to have my own TV show for the first time at that age, I might have looked after myself a bit more along the way (‘Mrs Moneypenny has a backside the size and shape of Paraguay’ tweeted one viewer).
However, even had I had radical plastic surgery, I would never have looked like Ms Bellucci. So, you do not have to be a stunner to embark on something new at 50.
Barclays has announced it plans to run an apprenticeship intake for the over-50s, starting this year. Applicants are likely to have transferable skills, such as being former maths teachers, and will be expected to work their way up from the bottom.
Speaking to the press at the time, Mike Thompson, Barclays’ head of apprenticeships, insisted successful applicants would be able to rise to the top of the company. “There is no ceiling on how high anybody can go. It’s a commercial decision.” Life experience would set the older apprentices apart he added. “Older people . . . can show more empathy.”
Barclays is not breaking new ground. Apprenticeships have been open to over 25s since 2004 and recent figures show that 225,000 people aged between 45 and 59 started apprenticeships in the past five years. Maybe even more interesting, 13,000 people aged 60 and above started apprenticeships in the past four years, 2,000 of them last year.
And those are just one part of the picture. Many over-50 career-changers will not be included in those statistics, such as 57-year-old Sir Daniel Day-Lewis who announced after winning his most recent Oscar in 2013 that he was taking a break from movies to train as a stonemason. Really? Yes. He has done it before — the last time training as a cobbler in France.
It is easy to think “it is too late”, even at a young age, especially if you are a woman. The sheer pace of our lives, and the things that take up our time (work, children, aged parents and so on) make it easy to shelve ambition and/or fail to address a career that has plateaued. But we have many years in which to achieve the things that we want. It is never too late to move forward, whatever your ambitions. Age is not a barrier to anything, especially not to success in a new career.