New year, new job? For many the new year is not just a time to think about finding a new job, but to consider changing career path altogether.
One group with a big interest in retraining is mums. After going through the huge transition to parenthood many question all aspects of their lives. Workingmums.co.uk’s recent annual survey of over 2,100 mums revealed that 64% are interested in retraining.
For many it’s the dream of having greater flexibility, but the reality is some mums are fed up with their job and want a change or a higher earning potential – especially with a child to take care of.
Moreover, a large number of women who have taken career breaks while their children are small have found it hard to get back into their original profession, whilst others simply want a more meaningful job. This was reflected in an earlier survey by Workingmums.co.uk, found that the top reason for retraining was a change in values [35%]. Other popular reasons were that respondents were looking for a career change [28%] or were fed up with their job [27%]. Long hours, inflexible working in their current job and lack of career progression were also mentioned.
The most popular time for seeking retraining was when respondents’ children had started school – a quarter said this was what prompted them to retrain. Other reasons included marital breakdown, redundancy and pregnancy.
So, what steps should you take if you are looking to retrain?
Before taking the plunge, it is important to ascertain what qualifications you might need. The government’s National Careers Service helpline (0800 100 900) is free and you can discuss the next stage of your career with one of their advisers. There’s a lot of different help available on issues like funding and the level and type of course you plan to study and your personal/financial circumstances.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re on any kind of state benefit/income protection scheme, that might mean your course fees and childcare costs will be paid for you. Some courses offer bursaries too.
There are state schemes and a range of education charity grants to help people in different circumstances, however most learners aged over 24 studying for a Level 3 or Level 4 course will qualify for an Advanced Learner Loan that they don’t have to pay back until they earn over £21,000 a year.
Fitting it all in
Next comes getting down to the work. One of the key issues facing working mums who are seeking to retrain is time. How do you fit working, kids and training?
According to Patricia Orlunwo Irikiko, author of The Successful Student, multi-tasking is not a good idea. You need to focus on your studies to get the best results. She counsels making a realistic daily plan, having a clear end goal in sight and understanding your learning style.
Another tip is to adopt the 80/20 rule principle which means putting in a few hours of concentrated study and eliminating all distractions rather than long unfocused hours. That will allow for family time. She says: ‘Successful students often spend less time studying than more average students and yet achieve better grades, for instance, instead of working for five hours a day, the best students may only work for two. The difference is that the best students are properly focusing their efforts.’
Coach Emma Louise O’Brien has these words of encouragement: ‘Retraining doesn’t mean abandoning the skills and experience you’ve acquired. It’s a way to enhance your skillset and open up more opportunities...It might initially be daunting as you venture in a new direction. It could also be the quickest route to finding new fulfilling opportunities whilst also ensuring the right work life balance for you.’
Mandy Garner is Editor of Workingmums.co.uk jobs board and community where you can look for a flexible full time or part time job, find business opportunities if you would like to work for yourself, and seek advice and support on a range of issues important to working parents.