Switching professions

New figures out last week show more people are switching professions and this is likely to increase in the coming months. Where do you begin?



Have you considered switching professions or sectors? A report out last week from the Office for National Statistics suggested there was a slight increase on last year in the number of people changing occupations, up 6.1 per cent compared to 5.7 per cent last year. More than half of those who changed occupation also changed industry.

Most change, both to and from, was associated with associate professional and technical occupations. Over 35s were most likely to change professions. The ONS said it anticipated occupational switching was likely to become more prevalent as the furlough scheme came to end in October.

Changing profession has long been something that women have considered after having children. Retraining has consistently ranked high in workingmums.co.uk’s annual surveys as parents seek to find a job that offers greater flexibility or can be done from home. With Covid the issue is not so much flexibility, but job availability.

Already many thousands of jobs have gone with sectors like retail – dominated by women – likely to be changed for ever.  Firms which are able to recruit are getting an influx of applicants for every job posted, although there is still an interest among some employers in ensuring diversity in hiring practices. Jobseekers are also trying to focus on industries where growth is likely.

Looking for growth

So how easy is it to transfer industries and how to do know where the growth areas are? According to recruitment expert James Reed, whose recent book Life’s Work: 12 Proven Ways to Fast-Track Your Career, offers advice for people looking to change or develop their careers, it is crucial to identify fast-growing industries or sectors or job roles such as Fintech, artificial intelligence or mental wellbeing, through reading, keeping your eye on the ball and talking to people.

He advises that even if you have great technology skills, it is important to bear in mind that all sectors have a wide range of jobs available. Moreover, there are some jobs that are always in demand, he says, like health and education, although even they may be facing cuts in the medium to long term.

It is also important to highlight any transferable skills are relevant. Coach Judith Wardell advises that people facing redundancy start first with understanding their own needs and interests in order to hone their search better. Once you have a better idea of what you want to do, you can research any additional training that might help you succeed, which employers are hiring and what they are looking for and you can tailor your applications and cv towards those roles.

The jobs market will be extremely competitive in the next months. Government support for job creation and retention schemes is vital, but so too are employer attitudes. That includes supporting employees who are being made redundant to consider a broad range of roles, including potentially career switches, and openly advertising that jobs do not have to be wholly office-based. The Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to causing multiple job losses has shown that remote working, particularly when properly supported, can work for many.

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