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The Great Career Change Pandemic: Workers Look to Retrain As Nurses, Accountants and Teachers

The Great Career Change Pandemic: Workers Look to Retrain As Nurses, Accountants and Teachers

There appears to be something in the water when it comes to people changing careers during the pandemic, with data revealing British workers are most likely to retrain as nurses, accountant and teachers.

With a newfound appreciation and emphasis on the importance of frontline health workers, searches around retraining as a nurse have shot up by 60% since the start of 2020.

Searches for retraining as an accountant or teacher have also increased by 27% and 12% respectively, according to data from eLearning provider DeltaNet International, which analysed a list of the top 50 careers to uncover any patterns in people switching jobs.

The data also looked at the occupations which have had the highest number of retraining-related searches over the past five years and found a similar pattern: nursing, law, accountancy and teaching were the most popular jobs to reskill in.

It echoes official statistics by the ONS, which show that the coronavirus has had an impact on occupational switching. Of those employed in quarter 1 and quarter 2 of 2020, 6.1% changed jobs, compared to 5.7% in the same period the year prior. More than half of those (53%) took their career in a new direction and changed industry.

Darren Hockley, MD at DeltaNet International, comments: “Whilst it’s true the pandemic has brought with it plenty of uncertainty – especially for businesses – I believe the effects of living with this stress long-term has left people with room to reflect on their choice of occupation and the virtues of their workplace environment. Faced with tough decisions and increasing pandemic fatigue, it’s perhaps unsurprising that dissatisfied employees across the country have decided now is a good time to make the leap into something new and possibly more fulfilling.

“I sense that businesses will need to step up in the coming months and get to grips with, not just user/customer experience, but also employee experience, as well as the virtual recruitment phenomenon. It’s going to become more important than ever that new and long-term employees are offered more than ‘just a job’, but a real future with ongoing opportunities for upskilling.”

The research also looked at search data for the past five years and identified a 70% increase in career-switch related enquiries from 2017-2021. Searches for ‘career change’, ‘career change jobs’, ‘move careers’, ‘how to quit my job’ and ‘career change quiz’ were all popular among those on the hunt for something different.

Those in their 40s were found to be most likely to change jobs, with a 19% increase in searches for ‘career change at 40’ over the past five years. This trend has continued throughout the pandemic, more than any other age group.

When taking into account the number of searches for ‘retrain as…’, ‘train as…’ and ‘how to become…’, the following were found to be the most popular occupations in 2021:

  1. Teacher
  2. Personal trainer
  3. Nurse
  4. Accountant
  5. Paramedic
  6. Dentist
  7. Lawyer
  8. Mechanic
  9. Vet
  10. Pharmacist

James Calder, CEO at Distinct Recruitment, adds: “The pandemic and enforced lockdown has given many workers the chance to step back and consider what they want from both their careers and their lives. Some have suffered from at best job insecurity and at worst actually losing their jobs which has resulted in many looking at retraining in what can be seen as more secure professions.

“We have seen a marked increase in the number of enquiries from candidates looking to retrain, however many are unable to make the change as it will often require a significant drop in earnings for a sustained period of time which not something many people can afford to do. So whilst we are seeing a significant increase in searches and enquiries around retraining, the reality will probably be that very few actually make the step.”

According to one survey, 61% of women are planning a major career change post-pandemic, with one in four also planning to set up their own business. Across the pond, in the US, another poll shows how roughly two out of three people who lost their jobs during the pandemic have switched careers.

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