Why 60% of UK Workers Are Planning a Career Change, and Should You?

Ruth Ng

Ruth Ng

6 min read
Career changes in the UK

The COVID pandemic has changed many things in our lives, with how we work being just one of those ways. Digital workspaces, a proliferation of work-from-home jobs, and increases in technology are changing the face of workspaces. For many workers, these changes have brought an opportunity to re-assess and alter their work situations. As a result of the COVID pandemic, many industries have shut down, positions have been made redundant, and many individuals have had to switch careers to keep paying the bills. Many individuals are choosing new paths, even after decades in their current fields. You can call it the "Great Resignation" or the "Great Restructuring," but 60% of UK workers are planning career changes, should you be one of them?

Is there any reason for the change?

There are a few reasons why workers want to change their fields post-pandemic. The first is that the pandemic has made workers realise how important it is to work for an employer who cares about them. In a recent CNBC survey41% of workers said that they sought a new career because they felt that their current employers didn't adequately address their concerns during the pandemic. Workers want to be treated fairly and with empathy. For a lot of workers, the pandemic has given them a renewed sense of self-worth, and they want to find employers who share their values and offer healthy working environments.

Another prime reason for seeking a career change is flexibility. Many workers have become accustomed to the flexibility that remote workplaces provide.  During the pandemic, many companies viewed the digitisation of the workplace as a necessary evil. In simpler times, working from home is often seen as a luxury. As the pandemic has subsided, many employers hope to have their employees back in the office again. Whilst to numerous employees, work from home arrangements have become an essential component of their jobs, and one that they hope to retain as things return to normal. The same CNBC survey showed that 76% of workers hoped that their employers would remain flexible when it comes to working from home options. Of the workers surveyed who plan to change careers, 41% indicated that a career that enabled them to work from home was ideal. In London, one out of every six workers surveyed hopes to find a new career that permits them to work from home.

Many working parents, in particular, have appreciated the opportunity the pandemic has provided them to work from home. By working from home they have been able to find a better work-life balance, caring for their kids while still able to work, and not spending nearly as much time commuting to-and-from offices. However, almost 60% of working parents also report varying degrees of burnout from juggling careers and parenting, especially during the pandemic. Over 52% of employees have said that their employers have adapted their child-care policies in response to the pandemic. For the remaining 48%, those working parents could be seeking a career change that lets them have a better work-life balance.

Workers under 25 are especially keen to keep the work from home lifestyle. Nearly one-fifth of under 25’s are also looking to upgrade their qualifications to further their career aspirations.  But younger workers aren’t the only one’s looking to up-skill. For workers interested in up-skilling, there are plenty of opportunities. Whilst in the past, trying to gain new qualifications or up-skilling was a daunting proposition. It invariably involved late-night classes, weekends filled with studying, and significant financial hurdles. Technology has changed all that. The technology that increased the digitalisation of the workspace has also digitalised the classroom.

Who’s catering for the digital learning revolution?

There are increasing numbers of online resources providing training and qualifications in IT fields to those looking for a career refresh and to better qualify for new more ‘tech-savvy’ demanding roles. These programs range from free online courses to online degrees and diplomas by accredited universities. Many of these programs are accredited by industry giants such as Amazon and Microsoft, and for many workers interested in re-skilling, online learning provides a great opportunity to gain valuable knowledge in IT, all while working flexibly from home. The demand for both up-skilling and re-skilling is driven by an estimated three million people being required for skilled technology jobs in the UK alone by 2025.

For those who want to change fields, there can often be other reservations beyond the knowledge gap. To many mid-career professionals, it can feel like their entire professional network has been built up around a profession they might be attempting to leave. Changing a career and up-skilling can be daunting without support. But there are available resources for those who are looking to do so. Many industry-focused programs don't only include hard skills and knowledge. They also provide soft skills regarding the communication of technical issues and opportunities for would-be career changers to network with other like-minded individuals and keen employers. They also offer the chance to be mentored by industry veterans, providing newly re-skilled professionals with the chance to get the secrets of the industry that will help them find an ideal job. These soft skills are invaluable for those looking to change professions and can help you find success in your new field.

What are the barriers?

Nearly 60% of workers over 45 are unaware of the sheer magnitude of resources available to help them re-skill, especially for careers in the technology sector. Many individuals also namely highlight the up-front cost of many courses presented by leading organisations as the reason for not starting their career change. Today, we at Knoma are doing what we can to both democratise access to learning through providing a solution and the sole betterment of the end-user – helping individuals looking to re-skilling and up-skill know what financially unburdened resources are available to help them.

Up-skilling and building up one’s qualifications isn’t the hurdle it once was. In terms of time and financial overlay, it has never been easier to re-skill yourself. Over the past 18 months, many professionals have reflected on their careers and decided it’s time to make a shift into something new. If you’re one of those people, but you’re on the fence about it, don’t worry. Getting those qualifications you need to move into something truly fulfilling is both easier and financial more available than it once was.

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