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(NANCY R. COHEN/PHOTODISC)
(NANCY R. COHEN/PHOTODISC)

ASK A CAREER COACH

After 15 years as a school bus driver, I’ve reached a dead end Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I am in my early 50s. I have been employed as a school bus driver for more than 15 years. In the past year, there have been major changes in the school bus industry and my branch was closed. My seniority is gone and I cannot hope for the routes or the wages I was used to. I am on layoff and drive whatever route they need help with until a senior driver takes it away.

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I am seriously considering going to another bus company, or even changing careers.

What’s available for someone my age? I don’t know what to do. Please help.

THE ANSWER

There is no right answer to the question: “What is available for someone my age?” The better question is: “What do you want to do?” I am assuming that you have had steady employment for at least the past 15 years. Coming out of a company after that can be not just scary, but intimidating.

Yes, there are lots of people, older and younger, looking for that next opportunity. There is no reason that you cannot compete with them if you are harnessing your skills and interests. Which brings us back to the question: What do you want to do?

If you want to stick with driving, take a look at what else interests you, such a cause or specific subject. Maybe there is a way to utilize your skills in a very different way, such working as a driver in a private company. You may need to examine what credentials you have, and upgrading may be necessary in order to switch things up a bit. It is helpful to leverage the skills you enjoy, even in a different career, and put away those skills you have but no longer enjoy.

If you want to do something entirely different, it is never too late. Talk to people who are doing what you may want to do, gathering information about how to break into a different field. You may need to invest in additional training, but it could be worth it if it means that you can turn your career into something meaningful to you.

You can also get help from Service Canada and other government employment agencies that offer courses and advice on how to find jobs and change careers.

With some reflection and a commitment to pursue options that interest you, you could well find rewarding work in this next chapter of your career. And in your early 50s, there are more chapters to come.

Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for McRae Inc.

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmailcom. Your name and address will be kept confidential.

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