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28 July 2023

Switching careers later in life

According to a survey conducted by recruitment firm Hays, more than half of UK workers were planning to change jobs in 2023. That might seem like an astonishingly high number and the reason for that is that the number of people who actually change their job won’t be that high. In fact, the number of people who actually change their job has remained fairly steady since the turn of the century, at around 9% annually. But if so many people want to change jobs, why are so few actually taking the plunge?

Probably because it is much easier to tick a box on a survey saying you want to leave your job than it is to actually do it. After all, leaving a job is a risk. The grass might be greener on the other side, but it also might not be. You might prefer your new colleagues, managers, routines, but you might not. And if changing your job is a risk, changing career is an even bigger one. Which is why it’s even less common. For those who change job within their field, there is often the prospect of higher pay and faster progress through the ranks to offset the aforementioned risks. But switching careers raises the prospect of having to start all over again from the bottom.

It may not be a surprise as a result to learn that switching careers is far more common amongst young people than it is those later in life. Whilst 96% of graduates said they had changed career before the age of 24, out of the total British workforce, 66% believed they were too old to change career. The chief obstacles for older workers in changing their career were financial concerns, with 52% citing money worries as the reason they didn’t think they could change career, whilst a further 41% also felt the lacked they skills to thrive in a new career. But making a career change late in life is more achievable than many think.


Do your research

Changing career may not be as difficult as it seems, but that doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. Research, and lots of it, is absolutely essential. A new career will be a big change and it is important to be aware of what your options are before you embark on the journey. After all, there is not much point in committing to a career change without a clear idea of what you actually want that change to be. Otherwise, you will be running the risk of making a change just for the sake of it.

Your research should also include a thorough self-assessment. Not just to work out what skills you’ll need to develop to embark on your career change, but also to make sure you know what skills you already have and how you can use them to stand out from the crowd. There might be a lot that you don’t know compared with your future colleagues who have more experience in their sector, but you can also bring a fresh perspective to your new career – a fact that too many people who lack the confidence to change career later in life forget.


Don’t be daunted if you need to go back to school

A key barrier, at least in theory, to changing careers later in life is not having the right set of qualifications to enter a new field. Of course, that can be a challenge at any stage in life, but for people who have professional responsibilities or families to look after, it can look a particularly steep hill to climb. But it doesn’t need to be. New technologies and changing attitudes have made getting new qualifications more accessible than ever before.

Here at Law Training Centre, we’re a great example of that. You can enrol in our courses at any time in the year and study at a pace that suits you. For people that can’t study full time, gaining a qualification to make a career switch needs to be suited to their circumstances — thankfully there are more options than ever to support older learners with existing commitments.

That doesn’t make it easy – you still need to put in the time and work to earn your qualifications, but it does make it easier. That flexibility is at the heart of everything we do. We also have plenty of experience helping people changing career to realise their ambition of becoming a lawyer so take it from us – you’re never too old to start afresh and find a career that you love.

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