50 is the New 30: The Rise of the Greypreneur in the Gig Economy

By Brian Wallace Brian Wallace has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on March 4, 2019

Retirement is a choice — not an age. Four out of five baby boomers expect to keep working instead of retiring due to financial necessity. Yet it seems that many employers would like to see them phased out, whether to make room on the payroll budget or welcome in younger Gen Z workers. More than 60% of workers aged 45 and up say they have witnessed or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, according to research from AARP.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967) made it illegal to discriminate against employees aged 40 and over at any stage during employment. Yet in 2013, IBM enacted a policy that specifically targeted workers in and above this age bracket, forcing them into retirement. Since then, more than 20,000 older employees were pushed out of their positions at IBM. If even this massive corporation can operate under such standards unimpeded, what could be next for older professionals across other businesses and industries as well?

Even under the protection of the ADEA, it is still legal for a potential employer to ask a candidate’s age and graduation date. Coincidentally, this is where many older workers find themselves facing age discrimination. Nearly 20% of workers aged 45 and up say they missed out on a position they were qualified for and 12% say they were passed over for a promotion, Ageism in the workplace is rude and offensive, but disparaging comments aside, it’s also beginning to cost people their very livelihood.

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Regardless of age, a dead-end job is a dead-end job. When getting ahead in an age-obsessed professional environment just isn’t working, it’s time to prioritize yourself. “Greypreneur” describes the rising phenomenon of older workers starting their own businesses. Calling on their networks of personal contacts, hiring out their skills, and taking advantage of freelance opportunities, no other age demographic enjoys the gig economy quite like this one. Though the image of a poster-boy entrepreneur may not exactly resemble your typical Baby Boomer, 57% of all small business owners are aged 50 and up. Many older professionals are stepping out of their comfort zone and forging new paths for themselves and today,  49% of self-employed workers are Baby Boomers and they are excelling in work from construction to consulting.

If retirement isn’t part of your vision for the future, rethinking your career and putting your skills and experience to the test can give you a particular competitive edge. Make yourself irreplaceable by building the brand, and the career, you’ve always wanted. It may be closer at hand than you think.

By Brian Wallace Brian Wallace has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Brian Wallace is a Columnist at Grit Daily. He is an entrepreneur, writer, and podcast host. He is the Founder and President of NowSourcing and has been featured in Forbes, TIME, and The New York Times. Brian previously wrote for Mashable and currently writes for Hacker Noon, CMSWire, Business 2 Community, and more. His Next Action podcast features entrepreneurs trying to get to the next level. Brian also hosts #LinkedInLocal events all over the country, promoting the use of LinkedIn among professionals wanting to grow their careers.

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