The Great Covid Career Pivot: A Third of Britons Want to Switch Careers, but Many Have No Idea Where to Start | Burning Glass Technologies
  • A third of Britons are worried about starting their career over again – but only a quarter are willing to fund training themselves
  • New study identifies industries and job vacancies on the rise, despite pandemic
  • City & Guilds Group is launching a programme to help people switch to industries where there are job vacancies

03 FEBRUARY 2021:Research launched today by City & Guilds Group and global labour market trends experts Burning Glass Technologies reveals that at a time of rising unemployment a third of Britons (34%) want to change careers.

But almost two thirds (65%) of Britain’s working population expect the job market to be worse in 2021 than it was in 2020, and worryingly, only 16% of respondents understand exactly how their skills would be useful in another career.

The Building bridges towards future jobs report includes findings from research undertaken by YouGov to better understand attitudes of consumers towards jobs in the current climate and expert analysis of UK job data – including of over 65 million unique job postings in the UK by Burning Glass Technologies.

According to the report, it would appear many Britons lack the confidence and know-how when it comes to recognising the potential of transferable skills as a route to changing careers. In fact, a third (32%) of those surveyed had no idea where else their current skillset might be useful and, when asked to consider changing careers to move into new industries, a third (34%) were concerned about starting over again, a fifth (21%) said they lacked knowledge of other sectors, and around the same number (19%) expressed an overall lack of confidence.

Those aged 25-34 are most reluctant to change careers, finding the lack of knowledge of other jobs (31%), worries about starting all over again (41%), the cost of retraining (21%), and the salaries of other careers (32%) more concerning than any other age group. And one in ten (11%) are seeking change because the pandemic has fundamentally altered their current jobs.

The report also takes a closer look at the health of the jobs market in the UK, analysing millions of job listings posted everyday by employers over the last twelve months. And while the overall health of the UK’s job market is of concern – with job openings having plummeted by 111% to minus 54% year-on-year – there is also reason for hope.

In some sectors, demand for certain roles is surprisingly on the up – industries that are actively recruiting include construction, digital, engineering, land and health.

UK vacancies on the rise:

(Figures relate to September 2019/2020 YOY)

  • Courier                                                      (527% increase)
  • Phlebotomist                                             (277% increase)
  • Heating Engineer / General Engineer      (66% increase)
  • Information Security Engineer / Analyst   (61% increase)

With the nation undergoing a shift in terms of the jobs that are available, the report suggests that the most effective way to change careers is for people to harness their transferable skills.

Kirstie Donnelly, CEO of City and Guilds Group, said: “The UK faces a new reality, where a job for life is no longer ‘the norm.’ But Covid-19 has accelerated some of the changes happening in our economy and brought new ones into play. In this context, it’s not easy for people to understand where their current skills and experience can be put to good use.

“We want to help people realise the potential of their transferable skills, so they are able to match these up to the jobs that are still available. Our Skills Bridges programme will help people that might find themselves out of work or looking for a change to identify the transferable skills that could help them unlock a completely new career path.

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.”

Matt Sigelman, CEO at Burning Glass, said :“For most workers, the best opportunity to get ahead comes from being able to leverage the skills they have, as well as from knowing precisely what skills they’ll need for the next step. It’s crucial that workers have visibility into the skills they will need to add in order to make a move – as well as to the right resources that will help them fill in the gaps and reach their goals.”

Paul Newman, Chief Executive at Greensleeves Care, said: “We believe that amazing care starts with amazing people. And amazing people come from all backgrounds. We have interviewed applicants from a range of industries including haulage and logistics, warehousing, hospitality and retail, and have great success stories of how well they have fitted into our organisation.

When we recruit, we look for values. If someone has the right attitude and a commitment to caring for our residents, we can teach them the skills they need for the job.”

Greensleeves Care is the first employer in England to welcome applications from individuals who have completed City & Guilds’ first Skills Bridge, Step into Social Care.

City & Guilds, in partnership with FutureLearn, has launched ‘Skills Bridges’ to turn the tide on unemployment in the UK and help individuals who work in industries impacted by Covid-19 to reskill and switch careers into growing industries or those facing labour shortages.

The first phase of Skills Bridges launched in mid-September and focuses on the social care sector. The Step into Social Care course, available on the FutureLearn platform, promotes the social care sector and the jobs and progression opportunities it can offer.

Skills Bridges have secured funding from Nesta’s Rapid Recovery Challenge and are set to grow in response to the UK jobs market and will include FutureLearn courses in sectors such as digital and construction. 

The Building bridges towards future jobs report is available to read in full here.


City & Guilds Group – Top Tips for Switching Careers

Starting a new career can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a firm understanding of where your skills are most valuable. But the process can be much easier by following a few simple steps:

  1. Consider your skillset
    We all have our unique strengths, it’s part of what makes an interesting and diverse workforce, so don’t ignore them. Whether you’re good at problem solving, communicating or data analysis, identifying your strengths is the first step to success.
  1. Harness the power of transferable skills
    Transferable skills are a brilliant way to show you’re a strong fit for a role, regardless of previous experience. And the best part is that everyone has them. They are a core set of skills and abilities, which are versatile and can be applied to a wide range of different jobs and industries. Examples include: Leadership, communication, interpersonal, prioritisation organisational skills.
  1. Take a look at the jobs available
    It may seem that jobs are few and far between, but some sectors are growing and creating new jobs, so why not shop around?
  1. Assess where your skills apply
    You may feel underqualified, but transferable skills can be found between the most unexpected professions. From a Barista to Pharmacy Technician, assess what you have in common such as customer service or stock control. 
  1. Look for guidance
    Changing careers is tricky but you don’t need to do it alone. Seek guidance from a careers’ councillor or search for programmes in place to aid the transition, such as City & Guilds Group’s ‘Step Into’ courses.


To speak to a City & Guilds Group spokesperson, contact:
Firstlight PR
T -+44 20 3617 7240

YouGov Survey Methodology

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1084 employed/furloughed adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th – 11th January 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB employed/ furloughed adults (aged 18+).

About City & Guilds Group

Our vision is for a world in which everyone has the skills and opportunities to succeed. We support over 4 million people each year to develop skills that help them into a job, develop in that job and to prepare for their next job.

As a charity, we’re proud that everything we do is focussed on achieving this purpose.

Through our assessment and credentialing, corporate learning and technical training offers, we partner with our customers to deliver work-based learning programmes that build competency to support better prospects for people, organisations and wider society. We create flexible learning pathways that support lifelong employability, because we believe that people deserve the opportunity to train and learn again and again – gaining new skills at every stage of life, regardless of where they start.

Our foundation activities amplify our purpose by helping to remove barriers to getting into a job, celebrating best practice on the job, and advocating for jobs of the future.