Supporting Mid-life Development

Workers are retiring later in life, pensions are uncertain. Traditional forms of life-long employment are disappearing, replaced, in many cases, by short-term, insecure and constantly changing roles. Many workers now will work in a number of different areas in their working lives.

Workers in mid-life, particularly those over the age of 50, who lose their jobs often find it difficult to find new work. Many have developed skills and experience, but are unaware of how they can be applied in new areas.

The 'Supporting mid-life development' campaign aims to:

  • heighten awareness of the challenges faced by workers in mid-life.
  • train union learning reps (ULRs) to support older colleagues in their workplace.
  • carry out mid-life development reviews to help older workers identify their transferrable skills.

Workers in mid-life often have a variety of care responsibilities, for children or for aging parents and relatives. The campaign aims to show how better use of skills and experience can aid in the development of work/life balance.

More information: Video highlights work of ULRs in mid-life career reviews.


Unionlearn has produced an interactive card game, Value My Skills cards, to help workers identify their transferable skills. These cards are designed to help workers who are are interested in a new job, a course, a promotion or some voluntary work to think about the skills they've already developed.

The cards can be used to start a discussion, plan for the future or provide the right words to describe skills in a CV, application form or covering letter. The cards can be used by individuals or in a group, where everyone helps each other to think about their skills.

Unionlearn has also produced a recording sheet (Excel) to give users the opportunity to record their decisions during the transferable skills activity and offer them something tangible to take away with you to support your action planning.

Order your pack of cards.


John Hayes, then Minister for Skills, announced in the summer of 2012 that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) would be funding the National Institute for Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE) to develop and pilot a mid-life career review process. The project commenced in June 2013 and finished in March 2014. The project involved 18 partners and the target was to work with 2,500 individuals to test and evaluate different mid-life career review models, and to develop resources to support the process. The target has been met and exceeded, and the project laid the foundations for future work.

Read the evaluation report: Mid-life career reviews – Helping older workers plan their future.

The Making informed choices – Supporting learners at 50+ guide explores the sources of support and advice available especially for older workers when there is change at the workplace and choices need to be made on future paths and directions.

Mid-life Development webinar 2017

The September series of TUC Education webinars included a live session on supporting mid-life workers. Here you can hear from Jane Warwick, unionlearn Projects Officer discuss the unique challenges workers in mid-life face and how you can support them.