In Adviza’s latest theme for our #ShiningALight conversations, we’ve invited some younger members of the team to have a dialogue about age, ageism and careers with some of the older members. Here, Careers Adviser Emma Hurren chats to Service Delivery Manager Maninder Hayre.

Maninder spent many years as a Careers Adviser working with young people with special needs, as an FE adviser and a Senior Lead before joining Adviza in 2007 where she has held roles as Assistant Director and Head of Service Delivery.

Emma is a Careers Adviser who graduated in 2013, spending time in a number of roles from administration to HR, care and outreach before joining Adviza.

I have clients who fit into the “older” bracket and are worried that it will impact on their ability to get into particular jobs. Do you feel you have experienced any age discrimination?

Maninder: No, but something I didn’t anticipate happening to me is how much you start to think about your age as you get older.  I know I have to remind myself as it’s natural that you do lose some natural confidence to ‘go for it’ which you may have had previously.  But you have to recognise your strengths at any age. As you get older the key thing you have is the ability to draw on experience in order to tackle almost anything. You’ve got all this stuff behind you. It’s rare that something is new and if it is, as you get older you do find you have good, experienced coping mechanisms. And I think we need to articulate that to older clients who are concerned about their age and their employability. When I come across managers and leaders who are quite young they seem really savvy and I’m impressed! I really enjoy working and learning from them. 

intergenerational blogEmma:  Faking it until they make it, perhaps!

Maninder: Maybe they are! And why not? We’ve all had to start somewhere, and you keep learning from others. One of the areas that my older friends and family do consider is that being older, you can get intimated by technology. We have had to learn everything and not grown up with it naturally as younger people do now.  So I can see how people who have been out of work for a while talk themselves into fearing something they perhaps don’t need to.   

Emma: I graduated in 2013 and have done loads of different jobs, and I feel like the career pathways that are available now are very different. What do you wish you knew when you were starting out?

Maninder: I think I would say it’s good to try as much as you can whilst you are finding yourself and when you have fewer responsibilities. The access to career and training choices now is amazing. I’m not an ambitious person in the sense of feeling that I must do this or must do that, but I am in the sense that the values and culture of my employer are really important to me. That—famously—seems to be true for younger generations coming through. Would you agree?

Emma:  Definitely, though I was actually super-ambitious about career success (in the old-fashioned sense) at university. Then I took some time out and travelled and it changed my perspective on work; I became more about values than money or seniority. I think your generation’s experience of careers was different to what mine has been: change is much more a constant now. My partner completed his degree, then lifeguarded for two years, then retrained and, having just turned thirty, has only recently qualified in his new sector. People change careers a lot.  

Maninder: They really do, don’t they? And that’s becoming the norm. When I was coming through, for the people around me if they had changed careers at all they had to explain why; it was a question mark over them! Now you have more chance to find out about and trial different career avenues and broader access to different choices.  There is a lot more scope for several jobs and hustle all at the same time than there was when I was at University or entering the job market.  What would you say are your generation’s “go-to” places to find jobs today?

Emma: For me it was (jobs website) Indeed. But even that’s changing and my younger siblings search differently to me. I think you get into habits that are hard to shake. What was it like for you when you left school? Was there an expectation that you’d do certain things? We have so many opportunities to train and retrain now.

Maninder:  In my family, the expectation was that you’d leave school and get a job, and especially being female and Indian it was quite unheard of to break tradition.  I broke that in my immediate and extended family—I come from an Indian culture where I was lucky to have a very big extended family—by being the first to go to university, so it was quite difficult, but I was lucky that I knew I did not want a traditional path. I travelled a lot and worked away from home for several years. You mentioned retraining and getting stuck in habits and that’s really pertinent, because you can apprentice for almost any job today—and of course, people in their mid-fifties can too. So we need to break down a widespread assumption that they can’t. And increasing flexibility in the workplace means employers might have people who are older but only wanting to work, say, two days per week. This opens up opportunities for young people too. I hope more employers see this and embrace it. What’s your perspective on retirement? Do you even think you’ll retire?

Emma: I don’t see it as a feasible option for me. I’ve only recently started prioritising my pension and it only became mandatory about a decade ago. In my second job after university, I didn’t have to have one.

Maninder:  I also don’t see myself truly retiring and I don’t think I want to. My parents worked really hard doing manual labour jobs all day throughout their careers. By the time they were 60 they were shattered, so it was different for them and they really did need to retire.  

Emma: Yes, a lot of work today is both remote and digital. It’s not as tiring and it means we can keep our minds active more easily in our work. My partner and I have joked how retirement will be for the wealthy. I can’t see myself not doing something.  

Maninder: I’ve done a big chunk of the same sort of work for the main part of my career. So I like the idea of going back to how I started and just being able to try lots of things once I perhaps have fewer financial responsibilities – so I really do not want to ever officially retire.  

Emma: I agree. Soon, there are going to be almost as many different routes and approaches to work as there are people. There’s a beauty in that everyone is on their own path, with more flexibility, more diversity, more opportunities to work remotely and so on. 

Maninder: Absolutely, and more role models too for women and different ethnicities, which is crucial. There are still barriers but it’s changing slowly and there is more visibility of role models than there was when I was younger. Does the increase in life choices and vacancies actually reduce barriers to successful careers, do you think? Or with arguably greater demands, expectations and longer hours, is it harder to be starting out now? I applied to Adviza through an ad in The Guardian! It feels so quaint now!   

Emma: I can’t imagine doing that today! And that’s an interesting detail because the first thing I thought of when you asked me that question is the double-edged sword of complexity. There may more be more aids to help you search, but there’s no standard template anymore. No two companies describe their roles in the same way, or they add responsibilities to a role you might have recognised back when you were starting out, or use very “in-house” job titles. It adds layers of complexity to job-hunting. It’s important to know what you like and what you’re looking for, and how a particular role might vary from one employer to another. I sometimes get the sense that some young people now don’t know what they’re working for because they don’t feel they can afford the really big stuff – life is so expensive and so worrying these days. I think that’s why, for many, the drive is simply to live happily.

Maninder: I agree. I think it is really hard for young people today. Not just because there’s this huge maze involved in finding what you can do and want to do, but also because trying to keep up with everything—with changing technology and lifestyle expectations— it can be very worrying and hard. People work far longer and there’s so much more competition too. The job market is bigger and more competitive and more global. My early career of applying for jobs through the newspaper feels incredibly old fashioned. People stayed where they were, too, so you got to know people well and stayed friends with work colleagues.

Emma: It’s so competitive out there now that even if you train to enter into a profession, there’s no guarantee that you’ll end up in it. What’s your advice to people starting out today?

Maninder: Cultivate a network. My inner idealist says that success is earned on merit, but my harder-edged realist now knows that success is a lot about who you know. Also, find out about all your options. Try to see the bigger picture and the world rather than homing in on what your friends are doing. Talk to your parents’ friends about their careers as well as your parents. Get the broadest exposure, to as many options, as you possibly can. It’s hard, but you need to be a very mature sixteen year-old these days to find your way yourself.


Thank you to Maninder and Emma for sharing their time and thoughts with us.

Adviza is proud to offer staff a platform to share their views on a wide range of diversity and inclusion topics and acknowledges that these are, as they should be, many and varied. We champion equality and diversity which means all views are welcome.

Our vision is for all young people and adults to make better decisions that help them achieve their full potential. That includes following the path that makes them happy and being the most authentic version of themselves.