Mature age professionals: Transitions into a new career
Embargoed until: 2019-03-01
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This thesis explores career change transition through the stories of the lived experiences of mature age professionals who chose to make a career change into another profession by undertaking postgraduate coursework studies. The collection of evidence for the study spanned the time from when the participants started their postgraduate study program to make the career change, through their academic program and into their new careers – a period of 18 months for full time students and 30 months for part time students. Modern labour markets, with fast changing technology, increasingly mobile populations, and the constant generation of new jobs and skills have resulted in the model of lifelong employment with a single employer no longer being viable for many people. Individuals now have to manage career transitions throughout their lifespans, with the need for continuous learning and ongoing innovation. These transitions present many challenges for individuals, however, there have been relatively few studies that examine how individuals respond to the challenges of career transitions. This study sought to provide an insight into the transition experiences of individuals making a career change into a new profession. The study used an innovative research design that incorporated transition theory with narrative inquiry methodology in a longitudinal study. The integration of this theory and methodology enabled the research of the lived experiences of the participants as they moved through time during their transition. There were up to seven research conversations for each of the 17 study participants across the time of their transition. At any one moment, the participants’ stories outlined not only their current transition experiences, but also their past and imagined future experiences. This moving back and forward in time produced multilayered and reflexive stories of the transition experience, as changes in time and place often resulted in different transition issues being experienced. The findings of the study show that transition is not a linear process, but rather is dynamic, iterative and wave-like. Consequently a new model for transition is proposed. Transition experiences ebb and flow over time and place as the transition progresses. Some issues experienced during transition become more important at particular times, places and contexts, only to diminish as other issues come to the fore. Issues from earlier in the transition are often revisited in the later stages as individuals look back to their previous experiences and forward to imagined new experiences. The study found that transition occurs in the midst of ongoing lives in relation to time, place and personal and social conditions. It highlights the need for research into career change transition to acknowledge these factors, rather than taking a ‘snapshot’ of transition experiences at a particular time and place. In light of the study findings, a new career change transition model is proposed that incorporates the wave like iterative nature of transition and reaches in to the ‘settling in’ of the new career. Stories of transition experiences into a new career provide useful information for institutions and organisations that are responsible for the recruitment, academic programs, induction and mentoring of individuals who are undergoing transition in order to enter a new career. This knowledge will assist these mature age professionals in their transition, allowing them to bring their valuable skills and competencies to their new profession. In addition, individuals who are considering making a transition into a new career would find the stories of career change of interest.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School Educ & Professional St
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Mature age students
Postgraduate coursework students