Retraining for a new career

When the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) decided to find out how satisfied British professionals were with their careers, it probably didn’t expect to find that nearly half would prefer to be doing something different.

One in 5 workers, according to the 2015 survey, were looking to change careers in the next 12 months. In London, 55% of workers said they wanted to change careers, 45% of whom were planning to do so within the next 2 years.

Indeed, studies suggest anything between 50-80% of people end up in the wrong career. In the LSBF survey, the main reasons people gave for wanting to change their job were that they wanted better salary prospects, better work-life balance and improved job satisfaction.

But there are many more reasons why you might want a career change, including the following:

  • You’ve been made redundant and have few opportunities in your current industry
  • You feel trapped or bored in your current career or line of work
  • You believe you can’t progress in your current career for 1 reason or another
  • Your role may have changed because of restructuring or reorganisation
  • You’ve developed new interests and skills that you want to explore
  • You’re going back to work after having a family but need more flexibility

Is it too late?

Despite so many people being disillusioned with their chosen careers, there are still large numbers who are unwilling to take the plunge. This may be caused by the perceived lack of financial security around changing careers or a fear of failure. And some people may simply feel they’re too old to switch.

Research from the Association of Accounting Technicians suggests people in this country think their last chance to change career comes at the age of 41. The study of 2,000 workers also found that most worry about being stuck in their career when they reach the age of 36.

Some careers experts agree that making a big career change once you’re well into your 40s or older can be more difficult than for someone in their 20s or 30s, thanks to those employers who are fixated with recruiting graduates and younger workers. But changing career in your 40s, 50s, 60s or even 70s isn’t impossible.

Choosing a new path

One of the things that keeps many people stuck in a career that doesn’t make them feel fulfilled is they simply don’t know what else they could do. So how exactly do you decide what to do next?

First, ask yourself if you really want to change career. Would a similar job in another company be the change you need, or could you change your existing job by getting involved in other projects or going part time?

If you’re convinced a career change is the only thing that will make you happy, ask yourself the following questions to help identify what your new career might be:

  • What are you interested in?
  • What are your skills and experience? Can you apply them in a different way?
  • What do you want? For example, you may want less stress and responsibility, less paperwork and admin, or less time spent travelling (or perhaps more, if that’s the case)
  • What makes you stand out (what’s your unique selling point or specialist area of expertise)?
  • Are you willing to retrain and start from the bottom again?

Some of the sectors that professionals most often switch to include management consulting (which is ideal for those with numerical and analytical skills), psychotherapy/counselling, health/wellbeing therapy, teaching, life coaching and self employment (setting up your own business). Would any of these careers be right for you?

If you’re still not sure what your new career path should be, the National Careers Service website features a handy skills health check, an assessment designed to help you discover what kind of jobs might suit you.

The website also has a useful job profiles function, where you can find out what a job involves and whether or not it might be right for you. There are more than 800 different types of jobs profiled, each including the skills and qualifications you need, what the work would be like, the salary you could expect and what the career prospects are.

Next steps

Once you’ve pinpointed the career you want to move to, it’s important to do your homework. Research the industry you’re interested in as thoroughly as possible by reading up about it and networking with people who already work in it.

At this point you’ll also need to find out what skills you’ll need to get a job in your chosen industry. Look for relevant vacancies to see what qualifications are needed. There are lots of different types of training you may need to do, such as a full-time or part-time college or university course, an evening course or distance learning, or you may decide to do an apprenticeship or an internship (these aren’t just for school leavers these days).

Visiting the following websites may help you find the right course for you:

It’s also important to research how you’ll finance your training if you can’t pay for it yourself. You may decide to apply for a Professional and Career Development Loan of between £300 and £10,000 (loans are usually offered at a reduced interest rate and the government pays the interest while you’re studying), or if you’re going to college or university, a student loan.

How CABA can help

If you’re currently unemployed or facing redundancy and thinking about starting your own business, you could qualify for our business start-up of up to £2,000. We’ll also support you to get your idea off the ground. But if starting a business isn’t your career goal, our free career development services can help too.

For advice and information call us on +44 (0) 1788 556 366, email enquiries@caba.org.uk or chat to us online.

Anonymous