A new report finds that a third of UK workers would be interested in changing careers but the majority of the workforce do not know how their skillsets could be utilised in other professions. 

Research conducted by the City and Guilds Group shows that a third of UK workers (34 per cent) would be interested in moving into a new vocation as a result of COVID-19.

However, when workers were questioned about what concerns they had about moving into a new role, the majority of issues were linked to skills and development and reward.

Over a fifth of respondents (21 per cent) felt that they had a lack of knowledge about other jobs and sectors whilst a similar number (18 per cent) were concerned about the cost of retraining.

Just over one in 10 (12 per cent) felt that they were too old to learn skills and over a third (34 per cent) were concerned about having to start all over.

Almost a fifth of workers stated that they weren’t sure about which other industries would value their skills (18 per cent) and 19 per cent stated that they did not have the confidence to switch into a new industry.

More than a quarter of respondents (26 per cent) were concerned by the salary of other careers, showing learning and development and reward as major deterrents for changing career paths and upskilling.

The demographic who was most hesitant to change careers were employees aged between 25-34 with two in five workers (41 per cent) saying they would not want to start over at a new firm.

To improve the attitudes towards skills and development, the City & Guilds group have outlined various recommendations that HR can take to give workers the support they need:

  • Embed lifelong learning at the heart of all skills policy – This would ensure that staff do not feel like they have aged out of the possibility to upskill and retrain
  • Implementing clearer and more effective ways to help understand and identify transferable skills
  • Employers should consider a more flexible approach to workforce development and recruitment

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO at City & Guilds Group said:

The impact of Covid-19 has created a difficult environment for both businesses and employees in the UK. Labour market changes that were gradually evolving have been fast tracked – as a result, many have fallen into unemployment without the right skills needed to find a new job.

The UK needs a clear vision for lifelong learning that revolves around helping individuals to recognise their transferable skills and develop new skillsets that will be required throughout the rest of their careers. To do this, we need a better funded education system that gives clearer opportunities to upskill and retrain, especially for people who are currently unemployed. The UK needs to install a culture of lifelong learning across all skills policies – not just in education but throughout our working lives – with workers consistently retraining throughout their careers.

Ms. Donnelly continued:

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.


*This research was taken from the City and Guilds Group report ‘Building Bridges towards future jobs’. This report was published in February 2021 and surveyed 1,084 adults who were furloughed or employed. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 11th January 2021.