You’re not too old to change careers, say those who’ve been

Mactaggart said that Hicken knew the area and many people, and that an older cadet might be more worldly.

Hicken “is not afraid to get bogged down in tasks and [is] like to talk to someone,” he said.

Jaci Hicken in the newsroom of Latrobe Valley Express in Morwell.Credit:Simon Schluter

Behavioral economist Dr Meg Elkins of RMIT University says now is a good time to switch careers because unemployment rates are so low. “This means that in a strong economy there are more opportunities for mobility than there were pre-COVID.”

However, according to the latest available data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the 12 months to February 2021, 975,000 or 7.5 percent of workers changed jobs, the lowest annual job mobility rate ever.

Of the 1.8 million people who left or lost their jobs, the most common reasons were budget cuts and “to get a better job or just want a change” (both 21.7 percent).

Nick Witkamp, ​​who has worked in construction for over 30 years, is now training to be a police officer.

Nick Witkamp, ​​who has worked in construction for over 30 years, is now training to be a police officer.Credit:Victoria Police

Elkins, an actor turned academic, said that as people got older, they thought about their purpose and goals in life and were less concerned about pleasing others.

She said COVID-19 had been the catalyst for career changes for many people. They checked their skills, character, strengths and values ​​and looked for jobs that matched.

Nick Witkamp, ​​56, has worked in construction for over 30 years but will graduate as a police officer at Victoria in November. He said his old career was no longer satisfying and that his children had encouraged him to seek happiness.

Leena van Raay, a former medical research assistant, who founded Bike n' Blend, a pop-up company that blends smoothies with stationary bikes.

Leena van Raay, a former medical research assistant, who founded Bike n’ Blend, a pop-up company that blends smoothies with stationary bikes.Credit:Vinnie Lum

He joined the Victoria Police Force in 2019 as a police officer and is now a police officer after three years working at police stations in eastern Melbourne.

“With all my life experience, I would love to mentor young people in our community and change their perspective,” Witkamp said.

“When I joined as a PCO, I couldn’t believe how welcoming and supportive everyone was – age was no object,” he said.

“My colleagues were the ones who encouraged me and gave me the confidence to believe I could be a police officer.”

For most of her twenties, Leena van Raay, 41, of Northcote was a medical research assistant at the University of Melbourne. But she wanted to get out of the lab and work in the community, and do something creative.

And so, 11 years ago, she started a company, Bike n’ Blend – popping up at festivals and events using upright bikes to power blenders to make smoothies.

The company now operates in three states, hosting more than 400 events per year. Van Raay is “itching” to change again, perhaps to become a consultant or to study a master’s degree in business administration.

“I’m glad I followed my passion, followed my dream, but I was also very smart to make it work,” she said.

“I now feel that I’m itching again, I feel that I’m in the same position, that I need a change. I feel like studying counseling or psychology and make another career move.

“I think I like to take risks, more than the average person.”

To others who are thinking about changing careers, Van Raay said: “If it’s something they can keep thinking about, absolutely. I think the risk of not doing it is greater than doing it. Then at least you know.

“It’s a big leap. I find it more difficult to make that decision the second time around.”

Jaci Hicken said one reason for entering journalism was to learn new things, which is why she completed a journalism degree from RMIT last year. And writing community stories appealed to her.

Like the diversity of the newspaper, in her first month she has only covered a lawsuit, profiled the topic of gun safety, an art exhibit, a 100th birthday, and eight local federal election candidates.

She says she may not be as scared as a younger cadet, and she’s more comfortable talking to people like the senior police.

She tells other older future career changers, “You’re not too old. You can go do it if you want. You have to do everything you really believe in and want to do.

“I know that’s not possible for everyone, but if it’s possible for you, you should do it.”

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