A third of Brits want to switch careers but don't know how

Saleha Riaz
·3 min read
A third (32%) of those surveyed had no idea where else their current skillset might be useful. Photo: Getty Images
A third (32%) of those surveyed had no idea where else their current skillset might be useful. Photo: Getty Images

Despite rising unemployment, a third of Britons actually want to change careers but are not sure how to go about doing it, a new report revealed.

Research by skills development firm City & Guilds Group and analytics software company Burning Glass Technologies showed that one in 10 of those surveyed are seeking change because the pandemic has fundamentally altered their current jobs.

But many lack the confidence and know-how when it comes to recognising the potential of their transferable skills as a route to changing careers.

This comes as the pandemic has wreaked havoc in Britain’s labour market, with a health crisis becoming a jobs crisis throughout 2020.

New research has shown a third (32%) of those surveyed had no idea where else their current skillset might be useful and, when asked to consider changing careers to move into new industries, a third (34%) were concerned about starting over again.

A fifth (21%) said they lacked knowledge of other sectors, and around the same number (19%) expressed an overall lack of confidence.

The report also found that almost two-thirds (65%) of Britain’s working population expects the job market to be worse in 2021 than it was in 2020, and only 16% of respondents understand exactly how their skills would be useful in another career.

Those aged 25t o 34 were most reluctant to change careers. Their concerns include lack of knowledge of other jobs (31%), worries about starting all over again (41%), the cost of retraining (21%), and the salaries of other careers (32%).

READ MORE: UK unemployment rate hits highest level since 2016

The report also said “there is little doubt that the overall health of the UK’s job market is of concern and hiring has clearly slowed down.”

On 1 March 2020, job postings were up 57% year-on-year, but by 5 April 2020 they were down 54% year-on-year.

While numbers seemed to be increasing in September, the postings dropped again below 2019 levels from mid-October 2020.

But in some sectors, demand for certain roles is on the up. Industries that are actively recruiting include construction, digital, engineering, land and health.

With the nation undergoing a shift in terms of the jobs that are available, the report suggests that the most effective way to change careers is for people to harness their transferable skills.

Matt Sigelman, CEO at Burning Glass, noted that “for most workers, the best opportunity to get ahead comes from being able to leverage the skills they have, as well as from knowing precisely what skills they’ll need for the next step.”

City & Guilds has launched ‘Skills Bridges’ to help individuals who work in industries impacted by COVID-19 to reskill and switch careers into growing industries or those facing labour shortages.

Their recommendations include identifying where one’s strength lies, such as problem solving, communicating or data analysis, and understanding that transferable skills are a core set of abilities “which are versatile and can be applied to a wide range of different jobs and industries.”

Examples include leadership, communication, prioritisation and organisational skills. They also recommend seeking guidance from a careers’ counsellor.

Meanwhile, the UK unemployment rate has hit its highest level since 2016, leaving more than one in 20 jobless as the coronavirus crisis hammered the UK labour market.

Mass redundancies hit the headlines throughout last year, despite the government’s furlough scheme, loans and grants, as well as employment growth in a handful of sectors. Many employers buckled under the weight of the virus, lockdown curbs, wind-downs of government support and weak prospects for recovery.

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