Nicole Deehan was made redundant from her managerial post in Barclays and, after temping for a while, has retrained as a benefits adviser for a local council.
She is one of many working mums who have retrained in the last three years, according to Workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey. It showed over half of mums have retrained within the last three years and 60 said they were interested in. The number who had retrained in the last year [27%] was up 4% on last year.
Nicole worked for Barclays for 13 years, starting as an office junior and working her way up to the post of team coach in the car finance and point of sale store cards department. When she left around three and a half years ago she was managing a team of 10 people who were processing car finance applications.
She was on maternity leave when she was informed that her office in Glasgow was due to close and transfer to Cardiff and she was therefore in danger of being made redundant. She had been planning to go back on reduced hours, but due to the likelihood that she was going to be made redundant she returned full time for around five months.
Her redundancy pay was fairly good so she decided to take a year out to look after her son. Around six months in, she started looking for other jobs and after a year took on temporary posts.
Fortunately, her father’s wife, who had also recently been made redundant, was able to look after her son so she didn’t have to worry about childcare since temporary work can be unpredictable. In fact, she worked as a receptionist for around eight months, covering someone’s maternity leave and then had a gap of a few months before she got a retail job over Christmas. A month later she applied for and got a job as a senior customer advisor at a council.
The council retrained her and she learnt all about the benefits and council tax system. She deals with the public, taking calls on issues relating to council tax and housing benefits. “You need to know all about the benefits system as housing benefit is dependent on a lot of other benefits,” she says.
She works part time – five hours a day five days a week – and says her previous experience in customer services has served her well. “I know how to handle difficult calls,” she says, adding that some of the people who ring are fairly distressed or angry given recent changes in housing benefit. “I always remain calm and this often helps to calm callers down,” she says.
She says that she doesn’t currently miss the managerial responsibilities she had. “My priorities have changed,” she says. “I just want to do my job and come home and not have to think about it or to work late. The Barclays role was more stressful and you couldn’t just leave work at the door.”
Her son is now at nursery in the afternoons and he goes to her dad’s house in the morning. She picks him up after work and pays for an additional half hour so she doesn’t have to rush down the motorway.
He starts school next year and she envisages a time when he is older when she might go back to full time work, although she enjoys being part time. “When he’s older I might look to go back to a more managerial role or to retrain again,” she says. “For now I have decided to take a few steps back as my first priority is my son.”