Too old to retrain in e-commerce?

I am a 49-year old contractor who intends to return to Yorkshire from Buckinghamshire next year and am wondering if I should consider a change of...

I am a 49-year old contractor who intends to return to Yorkshire from Buckinghamshire next year and am wondering if I should consider a change of direction in my career. I am an analyst/programmer in a mainframe environment, using Cics and Cobol, and have spent four years at Abbey National on its General Insurance system and one year at GA. Prior to this, I was permanent at CIS, but still on mainframe with DB2 and Ideal experience. If I stay where I am, I expect that I will be secure for the next two or three years, after which the system is being replaced, but I intend to work in computing for another six or seven years. There are two questions: Will there be sufficient mainframe work from about June onwards to see me through to retirement if that is what I decide I would prefer to do? Would you consider it advisable for someone of my age and limited experience to retrain in e-commerce?

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The first part of the question requires a crystal ball. I am afraid no one can predict the IT market for the next 10 years, but it is fair to say that the skills you have are still being advertised for and I imagine that they will be for some time to come.

The second question is more interesting. First, we have to consider what skills are required for an e-commerce specialist to have and then whether you have them or, if not, whether you can be trained.

E-commerce is not about technology but about business. A company must decide on its market and how to expand before looking at e-commerce. There is no point creating a fancy Web site and not having the production or service capacity to cope with the increased business. So the skills required for e-business are as much about business itself as they are about technology.

If you have good business awareness as a result of your experience in the financial sector coupled with an analytical mind and a willingness to learn the technical skills, then e-business could be an opportunity for you. More and more training companies are running training in e-business and an introductory session may well help you decide which route to take without burning a hole in your pocket.

The National Occupational Standards as created by the ITNTO can be used to help ascertain the competencies you have and I feel sure that you would be amazed at just how many different skills you possess that are in constant demand.

  • Solution by Gordon Greaves, director of standards and qualifications at the IT National Training Organisation
  • The panel: Elan, Best International Group, Apex, Computer Futures, Computer People, Monarch Recruitment and ITNTO

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