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Explore comprehensive resources and expert advice to help you navigate the complexities of career planning and development.

The mechanics of career change

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As retirement age falls further back and no career is safe from the threat of redundancy and change, can you really rely on a career for life?

This is a view that many agree with – less than one in ten (8.6%) workers in the UK expect to stay in one career for their entire life.

According to recruiter Hyphen, more than a quarter of young workers (aged 16-34) say they want to change jobs between eight and twelve times during their careers. And although older workers tend to show more loyalty to employers, they can struggle when faced with looking for another career if their employer does not reciprocate that loyalty.

The unpredictability of the current economic climate, as well as the speed of career change and increased mobility of workers, means that career minded people should expect to change jobs, if not careers, many times in their working life.

This isn’t just restricted to external forces. People themselves can feel the need to change career if they are not satisfied in their current careers. Our motivations and interests change over time; with much more flexibility now available for those who wish to build their own careers or return to another career after having a family.

So how can you prepare for the seemingly inevitable? Are there ways you can adapt your current career to conquer boredom or the feeling of not progressing in your career?

Career Analysts work with thousands of people to help them develop their career path or find the ideal career change for them.

As we move beyond our first careers, into our thirties and beyond, our lifestyle and priorities change – does your career still motivate you and reflect your ambitions? Career Analysts can help you re-evaluate who you are, what drives you and how your career can help you achieve your dreams.

This means considering your career options, reviewing your career progress and assessing your current role. By building up your holistic profile – your motivations, personality and abilities – using psychometric tests, Career Analysts can devise a realistic career path for your future; whether that is a different career plan or developing your talents in your current career.

There’s no need to fear a career change but embrace the possibilities that can occur when you stop looking for that one career for life!

Decline of traditional careers

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New career analysis by the independent think-tank the Resolution Foundation, claims that traditional careers are declining or flatlining across the country, and the real effect is being masked by a rise in self-employment.

The research into careers shows that the total number of employed jobs fell in 9 of the 12 British regions recently, ranging from a drop of 156,000 posts in Scotland, to a fall of 24,000 in the east Midlands. The numbers of employee jobs in the south-east (-1,000) and eastern region (+4,000) remained virtually static, while in London, uniquely, 285,000 were created.

The numbers of self-employed jobs rose by 116,000 in the south-east, by 85,000 in London itself, by 67,000 in the east and by 61,000 in the west Midlands. There were 58,000 additional self-employed posts in the south-west and 43,000 in the east Midlands.

These newly-created careers in self-employment were sufficient to offset the loss of careers in the employed sector and this has contributed to an increase in the number in work in other regions over the 2008 baseline.

Additional research has shown that self-employment weekly wages have decreased at a much bigger percentage than those in employment. While weekly wages for career employees fell 6% between 2007 and 2015, typical self-employed pay has decreased by 20% in the same time period. The typical self-employed person is now being paid 40% less than the average career employee.

This move into self-employment can be for personal reasons, but some state a lack of other career options. There is also worrying analysis that this change in career patterns can be putting even more financial pressure on homes across the UK.

The Guardian quotes labour market economist and former Bank of England rate-setter, David Blanchflower “Self-employment is often the last resort of the desperate… such workers operate under considerable strain, worried about where their income is coming from, and are sometimes forced to finance themselves by borrowing against their home, exposing their families to the same financial uncertainty that is associated with their career.”

Workplace pension numbers hit all-time low.

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A report from the Office of National Statistics has shown that the number of people planning for the future with career pension schemes has fallen to an all-time low. In both public and private sector careers, saving into workplace schemes has fallen below 50% for the first time since records began.

In 2015, 12.2 million, 48%, workers were in occupational pension schemes, compared to 55% in 1997. As the economy continues to be unstable, house prices fluctuate and elderly care costs rise, can people afford to be so unprepared in their careers for the future?

Tom McPhail, head of career pensions research at consultancy Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Undoubtedly the recession drove many workers to pull out of schemes due to financial pressures. But various changes in legislation over the years have also led to employers shutting down final career salary schemes. Pensions are seen as a discretionary spend but millions are sleepwalking into retirement only to find they haven’t saved enough during their careers.”

Statistics also revealed that just 9% of private sector employees were in final salary or career average schemes, compared to 34% 14 years ago.

The schemes guarantee workers a yearly sum based on length of career. However, they are expensive to fund, and have long been in decline in the UK.

The Daily Telegraph states that the UK is already facing a pensions demographic “time bomb” as workers live longer but careers are the same length, and so the retirement deficit swells, with the latest ONS figures likely to heap further pressure on the Government to implement radical measures to tackle the issue.

From October 2012, new regulations introduced by the Government forced all employers to offer workers a pension scheme, under “auto-enrolment”, in an attempt to get an extra 10 million people saving for retirement during their careers.

But experts say the contribution levels required from businesses and workers – a combined 8% of an employee’s salary – are too low to tackle the issue properly, raising the prospect that businesses may have to contribute more into schemes.

People themselves can tackle this issue by examining their private and company pension plans and considering their own career ideals. It may be time to consider a career change and to start seriously considering your financial future.

Career security in a changing retail climate

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Building career security is a crucial step for employees. The retail industry employs a large workforce; the shelf stacker, the cashier and the shop assistant front it. However, its back end includes an army of career managers, buyers, accountants, and human resource career professionals, who often train in retail as a stepping stone for other careers.

The retail industry bends to consumer and economic trends and this has a direct effect on people’s careers. A credit crunch affects credit and lack of credit indirectly affects a family’s disposable income. Inflation and higher food prices have not helped that trend. Although people still have to eat they do not have to have new fashion accessories. Many people in the UK have had to prioritise their needs when it comes to spending.

Retailers in the last twenty years have had to pare down their profits to maintain sales. The Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) report, predicted that by 2016 online sales will represent over 20% of all retail sales. The creation of better online security and more interactive websites will ensure that online shopping will increase and this will have an immediate effect on people’s career choices and the security of their careers.

However, while being able to purchase your weekly shop online may be labour and time-saving, it may not provide the same ‘retail therapy’; the thrill of seeing an object and having to have it, and the gratification of treating oneself! People love to window shop and many would not dream of risking purchasing an outfit they had not first tried on, or a piece of fruit they had not first felt and smelt.

There will no doubt always be successful retailers and they will continue to adapt to changing economic times and work patterns. Employers are being forced to tackle life-work balance issues that will improve retail career working conditions in an industry long dogged by overwork and underpay at lower levels. While many stores now offer self-serve facilities, retailers will still have to employ increasing numbers of staff to expand their empires; Britain may well remain a nation of shopkeepers’ for a tad longer!

Learning how to build and maintain career security in uncertain economic times is a task many of us will have to perfect. Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae may sound like two friends of Mickie Mouse but the takeover of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) represents one of the largest acts of US government intervention in a private financial company in decades. Ironically, Fanny Mae was part of Roosevelt’s New Deal founded in 1938 to provide liquidity to the housing market. The fallout from their collapse will reverberate around the globe for many years. Certainly, it contributed to the credit crunch and these have historically affected career security.

Can women forge a career as a chef?

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In their careers, women were once cooks and men chefs, and never the twain would meet. People over forty may remember that women were told that they did not have the temperament to be career chefs, or that they could not deal with the pressure in that career path.

Today, there is more interest in becoming a career chef than at any other time in history; it is now viewed as a glamorous career option. However, despite fifty years of feminism, women like Rachel Ray and Nigella Lawson are more TV personalities than career chefs.

Women appear reluctant to blame sexism as the reason they do not get on in the professional kitchen yet the barriers to becoming a career chef appear to be slowly coming down.

Gordon Ramsey seems an unlikely champion of female career chefs but the first British woman to gain a Michelin star is Angela Hartnett who began her career in his kitchen. Angela was the first female head chef at the Connaught ending over a century of male domination. Héléne Darroze, a leading chef in Paris, has recently opened her first restaurant in the UK at the Connaught. She was trained in her career by Alain Ducasse and is widely acknowledged as one of the top female chefs in the world.

Some decades ago the kitchen was regarded as a macho place with highly strung chefs flinging knives at unsuspecting sous chefs. Women were not attracted to the highly unstable atmosphere prevalent in a kitchen. Nowadays although that image is maintained by Gordon Ramsey and Marco Pierre White, most people regard it as being in the realms of entertainment rather than in the real world.

Women do face disadvantages in taking up a career as a chef; the hours are long, hard and antisocial especially when they are first starting out. However they have some advantages – successful women do stand out in a male dominated world. “Cheffing” is a career in which you never stop learning, but it is a career for life. The career objectives may change but you will never have to retrain.

To become a career chef is now a respectable profession and it is attracting new recruits in droves and many of those have a university degree. The days when chefs could cook but went bankrupt for lack of business acumen is diminishing. Héléne Darroze graduated from university with a business degree before joining Alain Ducasse’s Michelin starred restaurant in Monte Carlo.

For those who want to cook for a career and cannot imagine ever doing anything else, it has never been a better time to don the white toque. Shifts are still long and dedication and commitment are necessary to succeed, but if you can’t stand the heat…

Have I got what it takes for a veterinary career?

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A Veterinary Surgeon’s career involves the physical and psychological welfare of animals. In reality this means the cure and prevention of diseases. This career path can be for farm animals, pets, zoological park or wild animals.

Veterinarians tend not to choose a career involving a single type of animal. The career they specialise in is either domestic which will include dogs, cats, parrots, gerbils, hamsters, etc.; or a career involving wildlife or farm animals. So the career path is either urban or rural.

A Veterinary career normally involves being self-employed in private practise carrying out surgery, diagnosing and treating illness, taking an X ray, administering anaesthetics or prescribing medication. Veterinary surgeons can work in their clients’ homes, stables, barns, farms, wildlife parks or in any environment where animals are found. As an alternative to a self-employed career they can work in the public sector for research centres, pharmaceutical companies, charities or government agencies. They can be asked for general advice on nutrition, breeding and psychological health.

While skills with animals are important and stem from a love of animals, people skills are also important in a veterinary career. A lot of the career may involve reassuring anxious owners and dealing with clients in the middle of the night – the timing of animal medical emergencies cannot be controlled. People skills can be important in dealing with other members of staff such as veterinary nurses or receptionists. In veterinary careers there is a certain amount of paperwork involved such as pet passports, records regarding immunisation and controlling and managing infectious outbreaks.

However much experience they have, veterinary surgeons rarely live and work a nine to five career. Many farm vets work in cold wet conditions, for instance in barns helping a calf to be delivered. Exceptional social skills can be called upon especially when a client is upset and stressed because a pet or livestock is at risk. The hours spent in a veterinary career, especially for a young vet, often seriously inhibit a social life. Some practices involve a fair amount of travelling

For a career as a Veterinary Surgeon, standard university entrance requirements mean good “A” level grades usually in chemistry backed by a secondary science subject – usually biology. Most universities demand work experience with animals. Experience on farms is an added advantage especially with lambing or calving. It is not enough to love animals – vets must also understand that commercial priorities can overrule sentiment – it does not cure animals and often gets in the way of the healing process.

Normally vets work as assistants when starting their practical careers, which allows for a period for career development. This covers areas of people skills, management skills and areas of specialisation.

Finding the Flexibility in Careers

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With over 5 million people in the UK now choosing to work part time in their career, pursuing the goal of a flexible, yet still high-earning, career is now an easier task. But make sure you get the right careers advice before embarking on this career path.

Senior lawyers, finance directors and chief executives are among those opting for part-time careers, turning traditional career concepts upside down. It is now more acceptable for those in more senior positions to request flexibility in their careers, although the extent of their hours is not always publicised to the rest of the workforce.

While the impact of flexible working for parents continues to be felt, it is not just working mums that are causing the shift. Karen Mattison MBE, the co-founder of Timewise, a recruitment service specialising in skilled part-time career paths, explains: “Thirty per cent of our candidates are not mothers, and this figure is growing. Some are dads; high-earners who can live on a reduced salary. There are lots of different groups of people who might want to have part-time careers. Coping with children is just one of the reasons.”

“Some people are taking part-time careers because they want to set up their own business, go freelance, or need time to care for elderly relatives; for some it is a lifestyle choice,” says Ms Mattison. “People feel like they would rather have the time than the extra income that his career path affords.”

The last recession had an impact, with employers turning to senior workers to cut costs by moving to a part time career. This has made going part time more accessible, and lets businesses realise the benefits of such workers. As Ms Mattison continues, “It enables employers to retain their senior staff. Growing businesses, or those cutting costs, can still access high-level talents on a part-time basis, which they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.”

However, those part timers might not want the rest of the staff to know their working hours in detail. According to a Timewise study, more than a third would never use the word “part-time” to describe their work pattern and one in seven prefers to let colleagues assume that they have full-time careers. The negative connotations of ‘part time’ for colleagues, clients and customers can often mean that the employee doesn’t feel that they are taken as seriously as full timers, and can leave clients feeling that their needs aren’t being met 24/7.

But times are changing, and businesses are seeing the benefits of part time careers, particularly in senior positions. This can create more opportunities for those in the roles to pursue career change, looking at their own lifestyle, mentoring school leavers and much more, while allowing the businesses themselves to benefit from knowledge and experience with a reduction in cost.

Career Opportunities at Sea

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It can be difficult to choose the right career at sea can as there are so many possibilities. Career options vary greatly on ships; generally, the smaller the vessel the more hands-on the career is likely to be, while on larger ships there are many more managerial career choices.

The merchant navy has numerous career opportunities for graduates as officer trainees, offering training and career development leading to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) certificate, which is the Certificate of Competency in Maritime Vessel Operations for deck officers – or Marine Engineering Operations for engineering officers.

The UK shipping industry has careers on many types of vessels – ferries, cruise ships, cargo container ships; gas, oil and chemical tankers. Support and rescue careers are also prevalent. As well as the Royal Navy the industry encompasses many individual companies each responsible for their individual recruitment and career training programmes.

Training includes a university or a residential course at a nautical college and supervised periods of career training at sea. Science graduates are preferred but a Bachelor of Science is not mandatory, a good Bachelor of Arts is acceptable, for instance a Bachelor of Law (Honours).

When your degree includes some engineering subjects you can fast track the career path by applying for individual exemption from some of the training, such subjects include marine engineering; mechanical engineering; electrical engineering etc.

Specialist career opportunities also occur on cruise ships and passenger ferries for graduates in the catering, hospitality, performance, entertainment and business career sectors. Some shipping companies sponsor candidates to study and some accept a Higher National Diploma (HND) in a relevant subject, or alternatively, Royal Navy career experience.

The next MCA level of competency is a promotion to the chief mate or second engineer certificate. The highest level of competency is a Master’s or Chief Engineer’s Certificate. The Marine Society and Sea Cadets provides a range of courses, which enable you to combine work and study to reach a good career level.

Qualification as a merchant navy officer can lead to career opportunities throughout the UK merchant navy fleet or working on private cruise ships. As a qualified deck or engineering officer you can, with more training, sail as a ships captain or as Chief Engineering Officer. Typically, six years’ experience is required. Some merchant navy officers remain at sea for their entire careers, but because of the diverse nature of employment within the growing marine sector, there are an increasing number of onshore careers including:

  • Working for government or international maritime agencies
  • Ship surveying
  • Lecturing or teaching
  • Marine conservation careers
  • Ports management
  • Maritime law

At sea, merchant navy officers are employed in an engineering or navigation capacity on the following major types of vessels:

  • Ferries and cruise ships
  • Cargo container ships
  • Oil, gas and chemical tankers, and other bulk cargo carriers
  • Offshore support vessels designed for specialised roles

Merchant navy officers can also gain similar career opportunities with overseas-based shipping companies.

Careers paths for psychology

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The best careers advice for a Bachelor of Science in Psychology – a psychology degree – is that in itself it does not qualify you for anything except the right to apply to the British Psychological Society (BPS) for a “graduate basis for recognition” (GBR). The GBR status is the first step towards achieving status as a chartered psychologist so that you can have a career path as a psychologist.

However, before you can become a chartered psychologist you must have a field of specialism, psychology is far too wide a discipline to encompass all career choices in one qualification. There are opportunities to work as a volunteer in many areas in psychology and you should because once you have some experience you have much wider career options.

Which careers are open to a professional psychologist include:

Forensic psychology

Counselling psychology

Sports psychology

Clinical neuropsychology

Human Resources

Teaching and research positions in psychology

Clinical psychology

Occupational Psychology

Health psychology

Educational psychology

Other careers are open to a Psychology graduate

Only about fifteen percent of psychology graduates go on to have a career as a chartered psychologist – the other eighty-five percent works in other careers.

A third of psychology graduates work in childcare, education and health careers. Education goes far beyond schools – it also takes place in hospitals, museums and prisons. Educational psychologists work in schools and in the private sector. To become an educational psychologist, you should begin with the GBR Accreditation.

A fifth of all psychology graduates work in the “other” section – careers in all other unnamed sectors. The administrative and management career path employs about 12 percent of all psychology graduates. Community and social worker career paths take up a tenth of those. Social care careers aim to help people overcome difficulties related to physical, mental, environmental or lifestyle problems at any stage in their lives. This work may be in an educational or counselling capacity. It utilises staff in professional careers that assist the vulnerable in both residential care and the community. Ten percent follow a career path in the business finance and IT sector.

Is self-employment a good career choice for you?

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Self-employment is one career goal but there may be better methods of achieving your career objectives. A career plan is necessary even for the self-employed.

If you think that being self-employed means having less structure and more free time then self-employment is probably not for you. Self-employment means being self-motivated and making things happen.

Achievers among the self-employed are no different to achievers in other career paths. They pursue their career goals relentlessly, but they maintain a level of flexibility as they are aware that changing conditions mean that the career plan has to evolve as well. Even the best career paths need to have a plan “b” to fall back on.

Being able to prioritise and concentrate on the career in hand is an important aptitude particularly when you are just starting out as a self-employed person. Making things happen in your career does not come out of a box of magic tricks; it comes out of determination and focus.

Having people skills is important in life – perhaps even more so to the self-employed. The most successful career achievers have an empathy with people; they foster relationships. This is important not least because bad news travels fast and a first hand recommendation is better that any advertisement.

Self-employment can be an attractive career option especially when you have been made redundant. There are many advantages to being self-employed but there is also a downside and if you are not a natural entrepreneur then the risks of self-employment can be high. The plus side is that, if you are successful, you can earn a great deal more than is possible by working for someone else and you do get to make your own career decisions – for which you have to take full responsibility.

The benefits of self-employment

  • It can be better rewarded financially
  • Independence
  • A passion that overrides anything else
  • Self-fulfilment
  • You’re in control

Disadvantages of self-employment

  • It can be lonely being the boss
  • The hours can be very long
  • It can be highly stressful taking on the responsibility – there’s no-one else to blame when things go wrong
  • Not every venture is profitable, the reward is not always commensurate with the effort.

To be truly successful in self-employment you need a clear vision of what you hope to achieve in your career. Self-employment as a career choice can and does take over your life. This should not be an encumbrance, but a liberating force. To be self-employed can be an obsession and everything else takes second place. Make sure your family understand what you want to achieve in your career and that you have their backing, otherwise you could put the two on a collision course.

The drive and passion that you put into your career may never be equalled in anything else that you do. This level of passion and commitment leads successful entrepreneurs to realise that self-employment changes their lives irrevocably.

Embarking on the career path of self-employment without research into the consequences is a very risky undertaking. So before you start your career and business plan make sure that your character rises to the challenge.