Increasingly, older students, even those over 50, are choosing to acquire more education. For some, learning has become a matter of great pleasure in the later half of life, while others see it as the time to return to school to earn a degree to facilitate a new career. Baby boomers are known for valuing education and are more likely to pursue it, formally or informally, in post-career years.
The entire body of adult education studies is being referred to as ‘lifelong or continuing education’. There are thousands of learners all over the world, who find that going back to college to earn a degree, or continue their business education is an exciting way to spend their time after a career and years of raising kids.
Today, someone retiring at age 65 is likely to live to be 80 or more. Jobs and technology are changing fast, and employees may explore different careers during a lifetime and the ever-growing job segments require a much higher educational background than the current jobs they hold. As a result, older adults are postponing retirement and are turning to college courses as a way to gain the knowledge necessary to maintain their creditability in their currently held positions, or retrain for the new careers they want.
The job market is changing fast and mature workers are returning to school to acquire the tools to cope with it. Workers today realize that they must re-educate or be left behind. Many older workers are enrolling in vocational courses like management training, and computer applications, technical seminars; sales, telecommunications upgrade, and engineering upgrade courses.
Even professionals like doctors, dentists, and nurses are taking courses to stay informed, while teachers, paramedics, and attorneys, are retraining to maintain certification. Many older workers, wanting to begin a second career feel that they need proper credentials to qualify for the type of job they want to do. Most workers in their middle age feel that ongoing and continuing education enhances their opportunities and provides insurance against becoming obsolete. Retraining and continuing education is seen as a positive way to increase job security and achieve promotions, maintain their market value, and prepare for career changes.
Different baby boomers have different reasons for returning to school for continuing education, professional and vocational training, or part time courses. For some, it is a result of a professional interest, ignited by experience in their field of work, which, they feel, will make certain ambitions, like a career change, attainable. Many older adults are just setting out to fulfill their life long goal of getting a college degree that they may have had to temporarily give up as a result of other commitments.
Most universities these days consider continuing education to be a core educational responsibility. They are willing to make their knowledge, expertise and contacts available to enable interested mature workers to update, and deepen the knowledge they have acquired from professional experience, or to complement it. Individual seminars and continuing education programs, increasingly meet this responsibility and universities are also establishing corresponding courses of study.