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A job for life – dream on

We’re sure you’ve heard it all before – nobody does a job for life these days. How easy life would be.  

Jane McGuire
12th February 2016
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In a world where most economies are righting themselves after the recession and technology is changing the workplace on an almost daily basis, the idea of being in one career until you retire is not one many people entertain in the 21st century.  

Rewind thirty years and the job market looked very different. Employees were far more likely to be loyal to one employer and stay with the same company for most of their working life, simply because that was the ‘done thing’. Nowadays, employment breaks, sabbaticals and re-training are far more common and studies show one in three workers will remain in a job for less than three years.

So why is this? Partly it’s down to the fact that people have many more options available to them now and seek new challenges throughout their career. It’s also down to a social change, with the likes of The Apprentice, Dragon’s Den and various government initiatives helping small businesses, making people more ambitious and entrepreneurial-minded. It’s important to note though it’s not just the employees that have changed; all industries have been suffering from a perceived fall in job security.

Unless you are looking to work in the public sector, join the army or become a monk, you can assume at some point you will decide to do some extra training and look for a new job, and while for some this might be a slightly different direction within the same industry, for others this can be a complete change. According to recent findings, those working in HR, sales and marketing will have the most diverse CVs by the time they retire. Alternatively, those working in the legal sector are said to be one of the most stable, over a fifth of workers expecting to remain in just one job.

If only one in ten of us expect to remain in the same job for our entire working lives, what does this mean for apprentices, gaining experience and a qualification in one particular sector? Is the age old notion correct – should we all be choosing degrees or other more academic courses that keep our options open?

Yes and no. An apprenticeship will train you in one area, so it’s a good idea to be pretty sure you want to do the job before signing up. There’s a reason why they were more popular years ago when the ‘job for life’ idea held strong.

On the other hand, modern apprenticeships are aimed at equipping you with a plethora of other skills which will help in any workplace, as well as ensuring your English and maths abilities are up to the levels expected of most employees. And, though they do require at least two years of work and training, it does not mean you are tied to this career for life.

The truth is, that to change career in any way you’ll usually have to undertake some new training. Think of it this way; a highly successful brain surgeon with years of qualifications under their belt will still need to retrain if they want to join the police force. Whether it’s a degree or an apprenticeship, it’s unlikely your new direction will require no updates to your CV.

So what happens if you do want to start all over again? Well, the good news is that retraining is not as terrifying as it sounds. In fact, there are plenty of courses out there to help you make the shift into a new career. Plus, because changing career is becoming so commonplace, there are loans out there to help you fund your new training, and support for people who are finding the idea a little daunting.

Is it time for you to make that change? Only you can answer that one, but just remember whatever qualifications you have it’s never too late to take time out, retrain and start again. A job is for life? Dream on. 

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