Changing careers as a mature worker is becoming more common as Australians live longer and workforce capacity issues challenge many sectors. In addition, the COTA Australia’s SOTON 2023 report found that older workers are retiring later, with 24% of Australians over the age of 50 thinking that they will never retire [1].

There are many people who choose to keep working, considering a career change is an opportunity to follow their passions and a more fulfilling path later in life. For others, a career change is necessary for security as, for physical or personal reasons, they can no longer remain in their current industry. Some people are simply looking for a new challenge.

For whatever reason, you may be considering changing careers, as a mature worker this transition can present unique challenges. However, it is entirely possible and can lead to a more rewarding and satisfying professional journey and continued financial security.

Here are some tips to navigate a career change for mature workers:

Consider your interests
Take the time to assess your interests, skills, values, and passions. Reflect on what truly motivates you and what you want to achieve in your new career. Also consider your employment needs. Would you like to work full time, part time or on a casual basis? Consider what would best suit your financial situation, your current circumstances and your physical capabilities.

Assess your transferable skills
Identify the skills you’ve gained throughout your existing career that can be applied to your new path. Skills such as communication, leadership, problem-solving, and adaptability are often transferable across industries.

Mature age workers (45 years and over) have valuable life and work experience, knowledge and skills. The Mature Age Hub, a service provided by the Department of Workplace Relations and Employment, provides older workers with services and support to help connect with potential employers. Click here to visit the hub and find out more.

In addition, to help with the transition to a new industry, Workforce Australia offers a Career Transition Assistance program. This program is designed to help people 45 years and over, to improve their confidence and skills to become more competitive in the local labour market. Click here to check your eligibility and to read more information.

Learn New Skills

Depending on where you would like to work, you might need to acquire new knowledge or skills. Enrol in courses, workshops, or training programs to gain the necessary expertise. For example, TAFE NSW offers Certificate III and Diplomas in Hospitality which provides a natural stepping stone for those looking to retrain into the in-demand hospitality industry. Click here for more information.

Address Age Concerns

Be prepared to address any concerns about your age during interviews or networking interactions. Unfortunately, ageism in the workplace does exist with the latest SOTON 2023 finding that 24% of older Australians had experienced employment related discrimination since turning 50 [1]. However, it is important to emphasise your adaptability, willingness to learn, and the unique perspectives and wealth of experience you bring.

Assess the Culture of the Organisation/Business

Don’t just be interviewed for a job. Think about the questions you would like to ask about company culture, opportunities to engage in work based programs, flexible work patterns, support for out of work caring responsibilities, and most importantly what are customers saying about this business. Perhaps ask about their diversity and inclusion policies and activities. It is always useful to understand the values of the company and search for evidence that the company lives those values.

Hold a Positive Approach and Maintain your Health

Approach the transition with a positive attitude and an open mind. Embrace the challenges as opportunities for growth and learning.

Finally, prioritise your physical and mental well-being. Staying healthy will give you the energy and resilience needed to navigate the challenges of a career change.

Take Advantage of Incentives for Mature Aged Workers

Government and employers recognise the value of having experienced and motivated people of all ages move into sectors particularly where there are workforce shortages. There are a range of incentives including access to free and subsidised training, financial incentives of up to $10,000 per worker, no cost specialist employment agencies preparing you for a job role and linking you to employers.

Ultimately, a career change at an older age can be a wonderful opportunity to explore new passions, contribute in different ways, and enjoy a renewed sense of purpose in your life, helping you to positively age.

COTA NSW is supporting employers to diversify their workplaces, include mature aged workers, improve their culture and increase productivity. Our work is driven by the lived experience of employees and employers. To guide our work we are calling for interested persons to be part of our COTA NSW Mature Worker Think Tank. If you are a mature aged worker looking for work or have experience of transitioning into work as a mature aged worker we would value hearing from you. Email us at to express your interest.


[1] and [2] SEC Newgate Research (2023) State of the Older Nation, prepared for the Councils on the Ageing Federation. COTA Australia

NSW Government Mature Aged Worker Fact Sheet