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Career U-turn: Retraining and career change

Career U-Turn: Retrain and change career

Many of us have been having these thoughts lately more than ever – am I in the right career? Should I consider a different path? And ultimately – what should I do with my life when the usual ways of survival collapse and it is unclear which industries will keep thriving.

What you’ll find in this article


The right mindset for retraining and career change

Welcome the change

We are naturally inclined to search for stability in our lives and the most important aspect of it is our job security. With every economic turmoil, Coronavirus included, we find ourselves wondering how to stabilise our financial situation and where to find support.

It’s hard to think outside the box when it feels like there is less job security during the pandemic. And this is exactly the starting point that needs to be addressed if you want to set yourself for success. The more we are fearing the unknown – the more energy we’re spending on sustaining the familiar ways.

“Change is the only constant” sounds like a cliché because it’s true. Equipping your mind with adaptability to change and acceptance of the fact that we can’t ever know what’s coming is what brings the courage to try new things, retrain, change career and explore new ways of living.

Decision-making in times of change can’t be done based on rigorous analysis of the future, but knowing what support options are available and in what state the job market is right now definitely helps to take a step into the right direction for you.

💡 Read more: How to stay motivated in your job search


The importance of transferable skills in your retraining process

Let’s say Kim and Ali lost their jobs and both decided that it’s time to try something new. How do they go about it?

Kim really enjoyed the lost job and would like to do something along those lines again. In this case it’s important to understand what were the aspects of the job that were so enjoyable – was it the coworkers, the job itself or only certain aspects of it? Answering these questions will help with identifying potential career paths or working environments that Kim could pursue.

Since Kim wouldn’t want to change things completely, the next stage would be to identify transferable skills and see in what other lines of work these skills are key. This can be easily done via uploading the CV to ValueMyCV tool and navigating to “Career paths” section. The tool will show which of the skills in Kim’s CV are often found in CV’s of people working in other roles.

In Kim’s case things are straightforward and all that needs to be done is CV polishing so that it suits the role of choice. To do that successfully, read our guide on how to make your CV stand out.

Identify your transferable skills with ValueMyCV


Ali on the other hand wasn’t enjoying the job that much and would love to change career completely. The only thing is that Ali doesn’t really know is what the dream job would be.

In this case Ali would also start with evaluating potential career pathways in ValueMyCV to understand what the most likely options for potential switch are.

While retraining into a completely new area with a whole new set of skills could be exciting, it’s best to build on the foundation of what you already know. This will give you the confidence necessary for jumping into the unknown and retraining quicker, which would inevitably lead to higher success rate with starting in a new area.

Once you’ve identified a couple of options that might interest you, it’s time to think about retraining programs available.


Where to find information on retraining

Find information on retraining online

What is retraining anyway and why is it important? With many jobs being affected by automation and the recent Coronavirus events, retraining becomes the most effective tool for career change.

In a nutshell, retraining programs are teaching participants new skills at a level that will allow them to do a different job. Retraining is focusing on adults and is different from formal university education in its practical nature.

Retraining schemes and support from the government

The government has various ways of supporting adult learners wanting to retrain and change career.

  • In England the government had launched a program for adults without qualification at degree level in 2018 and is supporting this group by providing help with retraining process. In 2020 the service is being rolled out across England. Find more information on eligibility and all the details here.
  • In Wales as one of the possibilities you can apply for a ReAct funding for retraining.
  • In Scotland you can find information about funding for up-skilling and re-skilling here.
  • In Northern Ireland the government supports further education and you can find more details here.

Apprenticeships and internships

One of the best ways to make a career U-turn is through an apprenticeship or an internship. While Coronavirus affected many of these programs negatively, there are still plenty of options available. You might spend more time on searching for options, but they are there!

Top 5 industries with most apprenticeships and internships available (May 2020 data):

IndustryVacancies (May 2020)Avg. Salary
PR, Advertising & Marketing193£18,870

Search for more information on adult apprenticeships online and use apprenticeships guide as your starting point.

💡 Read more: All you need to know about apprenticeships


Preparing financially for a career U-turn

Virtual assistant using calculator

One of the most pressing issues of career change is the financial aspect. While you can apply for grants and support, it is still important that you have savings. Knowing that there is at least some safety net will ease your mind and you’ll be able to do better at any course you’re taking, as learning process won’t be hindered by constant worries.

When we learn it’s very important to be in a relaxed and receptive state – that way remembering new information will come easier.

Understanding how to afford the change

Start with understanding your as-is situation:

  • Calculate how much your lifestyle costs right now: what are your essentials and luxuries?
  • Understand how you can adjust the essentials – can you move to cheaper housing? Can you claim benefits?
  • Cull all luxuries with no regrets

Calculate you to-be situation while taking into account the length of your retraining program:

  • How long will the program take?
  • Given that you’ve adjusted your expenses, how much money will you need to sustain yourself while in retraining?

You can learn more about preparing financially for career change in this article by Career Shifters.


Retraining and career change success stories

It’s normal to doubt whether retraining will become a path to a job you’ll enjoy, but if you don’t try – you won’t know. Learning about others’ success if often helpful and inspiring. If they could do it – you can too!

Reddit Career Changers thread is great for sourcing inspiration and asking questions. Quora is also a great place to search for career change stories. And good old Google can always get you inspired, as you can find gems like this BBC article with success stories.

No matter what path you’ll take – you’ll be proud that you took it. We can’t stop the world from spinning, but by staying nimble and open we can recreate our lives over time.


Author: Margo Barsukova