Building bridges towards future jobs

The Great Covid Career Pivot: A third of Britons want to switch careers, but many have no idea where to start.

03 February 2021

  • A third of Britons are worried about starting their career over again - but only a quarter are willing to fund training themselves
  • New study identifies industries and job vacancies on the rise, despite pandemic
  • City & Guilds is launching a programme to help people switch to industries where there are job vacancies

Research launched today by City & Guilds and global labour market trends experts Burning Glass Technologies reveals that at a time of rising unemployment a third of Britons (34%) want to change careers.

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

The Building bridges towards future jobs report includes findings from research undertaken by YouGov to better understand attitudes of consumers towards jobs in the current climate and expert analysis of UK job data – including of over 65 million unique job postings in the UK by Burning Glass Technologies.

According to the report, it would appear many Britons lack the confidence and know-how when it comes to recognising the potential of transferable skills as a route to changing careers. In fact, 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.

Those aged 25-34 are most reluctant to change careers, finding the 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%) more concerning than any other age group. And one in ten (11%) are seeking change because the pandemic has fundamentally altered their current jobs.

The report also takes a closer look at the health of the jobs market in the UK, analysing millions of job listings posted everyday by employers over the last twelve months. And there is little doubt that the overall health of the UK’s job market is of concern and hiring has clearly slowed down. On 1st March 2020, job postings were up +57% YOY, but by the 5th April 2020 job postings had plummeted to -54% YOY. While numbers seemed to be increasing in September, the postings dropped again below 2019 levels from mid-October 2020.

In some sectors, demand for certain roles is surprisingly on the up – industries that are actively recruiting include construction, digital, engineering, land and health.

UK vacancies on the rise:

(Figures relate to September 2019/2020 YOY)

  • Courier (527% increase)
  • Phlebotomist (277% increase)
  • Heating Engineer / General Engineer (66% increase)
  • Information Security Engineer / Analyst (61% increase)

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.

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City and Guilds, said: “The UK faces a new reality, where a job for life is no longer ‘the norm’. But Covid-19 has accelerated some of the changes happening in our economy and brought new ones into play. In this context, it’s not easy for people to understand where their current skills and experience can be put to good use.

“We want to help people realise the potential of their transferable skills, so they are able to match these up to the jobs that are still available. Our Skills Bridges programme will help people that might find themselves out of work or looking for a change to identify the transferable skills that could help them unlock a completely new career path.

If you’re an employer from a growth industry, we would encourage you to take a more flexible approach to recruitment and recognise the untapped potential in people working in industries with related or transferable skills. This can offer a new lease of life for businesses and those affected by changes to our labour market, and help kickstart the economy. Ensuring no one is left behind will take a large-scale collective effort led by Government. We hope they listen to the real and practical solutions laid out in our report and act now.”

Matt Sigelman, CEO at Burning Glass, said :“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. It’s crucial that workers have visibility into the skills they will need to add in order to make a move – as well as to the right resources that will help them fill in the gaps and reach their goals.”

Paul Newman, Chief Executive at Greensleeves Care, said: “We believe that amazing care starts with amazing people. And amazing people come from all backgrounds. We have interviewed applicants from a range of industries including haulage and logistics, warehousing, hospitality and retail, and have great success stories of how well they have fitted into our organisation.

When we recruit, we look for values. If someone has the right attitude and a commitment to caring for our residents, we can teach them the skills they need for the job.”  

Greensleeves Care is the first employer in England to welcome applications from individuals who have completed City & Guilds’ first Skills Bridge, Step into Social Care.

Read the full report