Publication date: 27/09/2021

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RUBENS DE ARAÚJO AMARO Internal Examiner *

Summary: The aim of this thesis is to analyze the influence of the aging process on the career adaptability of older civil servants at a Brazilian federal public university. The Career Construction Theory is adopted as the underlying theoretical approach to answer the proposed objective. Career adaptability is a fundamental concept of the Career Construction Theory and has four main dimensions: concern, control, curiosity and confidence. This study is of qualitative nature, having the narrative research as investigation strategy.
The research subjects are technical-administrative in education staff workers aged 45 or over who work at a Brazilian federal university. Data collection occurred through in-depth semi-structured interviews. Sixteen older civil servants were interviewed, eight men and eight women. Data were generated by analyzing narratives and biographies. The analysis process produced, a posteriori, 16 thematic categories. The thematic categories were organized into five theoretical categories a priori. The results show the multiplicity of ages in the organizational context. In addition, older workers` narratives exhibit the process of reorganizing meanings to deal with the demands of different social roles and with the specific context of each moment of their lives during their career construction. The analysis of the aging factor in their careers allows for advancing discussions about the subjective aspects of the aging process, stereotypes about aging, ageism in the organizational environment and the career adaptability of older workers. The results point to the following features of career adaptability of older civil servants: (1) concern – the context of the contemporary job market provides occasional career transitions. Furthermore, retirement is a fundamental milestone for the career of older workers. Qualification and professional training prepare older workers for the personal and professional challenges in their careers; (2) control – older workers demonstrate agency and autonomy during their career construction, and also point out the importance of productivity and proactivity and control of the aging process as a way of resisting the feeling of worthlessness and obsolescence in their public office positions. In the public sector, especially stability, enables the experience of uselessness and obsolescence in public office positions; (3) curiosity – older workers are able to explore professional activities outside the university, change their work sector and work activities, as well as start a new phase in their professional careers throughout their professional lives. However, the aging process can lead to caution or resistance to career changes and transitions; and, (4) confidence – aging enables the
development of maturity, knowledge and professional experience, influences the competence to solve and overcome professional obstacles during the implementation of vocational choices, enables efficiency and satisfactory performance at work, makes older workers become positive references for other workers, and finally, raises awareness about learning and constant professional updating, especially when it comes to digital technologies. The results suggests that career control is the central dimension of career adaptability of older workers, mainly due to the stability provided
by public work and the fact that most respondents are in the stage of their career development called career management. With this scenario, an explanatory model of the career adaptability of older workers is proposed. The explanatory model demonstrates that the context and stage of career development indicate the dimension of career adaptability that will be central at a given moment in the career construction of the individual(s). This advance in the literature yields the study of the career construction of different populations in different contexts, since the stages of career development and specific social contexts demand different resources for career adaptability.

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