By AAT Comment Career Will your skills still be relevant in 2020? 15 Jun 2015 Today marks the beginning of Adult Learners Week 2015, which helps raise awareness of the benefits of lifelong learning. It’s no secret that adults who continue to retrain and reskill throughout their lives are healthier, happier and get better jobs. However, new research from AAT shows that a considerable amount of adults are not keeping their skills up to date, making them vulnerable to recent shifts in the economy and government policy. The state pension age is set to rise to 66 by 2020, meaning that people will have to work for longer than ever before. The increase in the retirement age is a reflection of UK’s ageing population, with the number of over 65s in England expected to double over the next 20 years. Surprisingly, 91% of working adults stated that they know it will be important they remain in employment until they retire however the research shows that many are not doing enough to maintain the skills to help them stay competitive in today’s job market. AAT found that: – 55% of respondents have not done any training in the past six months relating to their current job, or, if unemployed, a job they are targeting. Worryingly, this figure is higher for people aged 55 and over, at 66%. The report also revealed that people over 55 are 12% more likely to be unemployed for longer than a year than people aged from 25-54. – 74% of respondents have not done any training in the past six months broader than their current job, meaning their options are limited if they try to change careers or want to advance to a new role. This rises to 83% for people aged 55 and over. Studies have shown that because people now have to work longer , they will need to change career and retrain at least once in their lifetime. Despite this new requirement, only two in five respondents (41%) said that half or less of their current skill set could be applied to a different job role if their current position was made redundant. One of the biggest barriers to people retraining is the cost, as stated by 40% of respondents. Undoubtedly, this barrier will only get worse after the implementation of the scheduled government cuts to the non-apprenticeship further education budget. These cuts will mean that many adults who wish to retrain for new qualifications, perhaps to change career or get out of unemployment, will be required to find the funding to do so themselves, as government funds may not be available then. It’s difficult to predict what will be directly hit but until these changes come into effect, grants and loans are still available for adult learners through various schemes: – Over 50s, who are out of work or facing redundancy, can explore the world of self-employment through the Run Your Own Business Course offered by the Prince’s Initiative charity for free. – Grants from Family Action seek to improve the educational and employment prospects of those with children. – The 24+ advanced learning loans will help with the costs of a college or training course if you’re over the age of 24. Mark Farrar, AAT Chief Executive says: “It’s important for people to continue learning throughout their lives. Technology and the skills needed to use it change very quickly, workers need to be aware of that and take every opportunity to add to their skills and protect themselves. Employers can help with this by supporting the costs of their employees training, which will benefit their organisation as a whole in the long run.” AAT Comment offers news and opinion on the world of business and finance from the Association of Accounting Technicians.