From Solicitor to Plumber: How People Are Retraining to Cope During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Robert Peston interviews Access Training on ITV

ITV News, 24th September 2020

Access Training was recently featured on a special edition of ITV's Tonight. Titled 'Can We Save Our Jobs?' and presented by Robert Peston, the programme highlighted the trials and tribulations that people have endured while on furlough during the coronavirus pandemic: the stress of having no work, the strain of having to provide for your family, and the hopelessness of a jobless future.

But it's not all doom and gloom.

 

"Anybody who's lost their job... my advice is don't be afraid. With hard work and the right training... you can do anything that you want."

Access Training tutor Jimmy Adkins, speaking to ITV's Robert Peston

 

The programme featured several Access Training students - people from a variety of backgrounds who felt the economic impact of the pandemic and made the wise decision to pursue a career in the trade industry. Chefs have become gas engineers, cab drivers have taken up plumbing, and even solicitors are jumping on the bandwagon.

Talking to Peston, our gas tutor Jimmy Adkins gives an excellent summary of the situation, detailing the enormous spike in demand for construction courses that followed the COVID-19 crisis:

 

"It went absolutely crazy. Guys have come from all sorts of backgrounds - taxi drivers, entertainment, even to the point where I've had some solicitors because they're unsure of whether they're ever going to go back to working in the office."

Access Training tutor Jimmy Adkins

 

One of our students, Chris Kruger, was also interviewed for the programme. Chris recently left his job as a chef, citing job uncertainty as the main reason for this decision. He speaks of the "very stressful and very worrying" threat to his job, and indeed the whole catering industry:

 

"Not knowing whether things were going to go back to normal, whether I would still have a job, the situation at home - expecting a baby and so forth - and my partner also being in the hospitality industry... both of us sitting on furlough, you can imagine the stress."

Access Training student Chris Kruger

 

Access Training on ITV

ITV Tonight: Can We Save Our Jobs?

Chris very wisely decided that retraining as a plumber would secure his young family's future in these increasingly unsettling and unstable times. Instead of sitting back and letting everything crumble around him, Chris took it upon himself to prepare for the future: "I just said, no, I need to utilise this time to study."

If Chris can do it, so can you. The furlough scheme has now ended, but the pandemic is ongoing and there is still a lot of uncertainty about the future - especially in sectors like entertainment and hospitality, which were hit especially hard by Covid and which will bear the brunt of any future lockdowns.

The Access Training students who appeared on ITV's Tonight programme took the right steps at the right time to become qualified tradespeople. They invested in their careers, and made the choice to be proactive and determined.

Access Training can be your stepping stone to a secure and fulfilling career; the safety net you need in these unforgiving times.

 

Demand is high, and the time is now. Take the initiative today - get in touch now to speak to a course advisor.

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Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

"Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." - Marilyn Monroe

Restart your career

If you're one of the thousands who have been furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what should you do next? And could you turn your furlough experience into a career opportunity?

If you are in this situation, what options do you have? Do you persevere and hope things will eventually return to normal...or do you know, deep down, that this may not happen? Should you look for a new job now, or think big and chase your long-held aspiration to start something new?

As it stands, thousands of people in the UK are already finding themselves out of work. Others are being protected from this fate - for now - by the government's furlough scheme, putting them in a state of employment. But with the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme ending soon, the threat of redundancy is looming ever closer for furloughed employees.

Furlough figures - September 2020

What should you do if you're one of the people affected by this situation? You may be feeling very stressed right now, but the end of furlough could also be your opportunity to begin something new - something far more rewarding than the 'normal' that you knew before.

The furlough scheme is due to end on 31 October, so there's no time to waste. Here are 5 steps that you should consider:

 

1. Contact your employer if you haven't already done so.

Don't be afraid - even if you've barely spoken to your employer while you haven't been working, you can still get in touch now to request some details about your situation and the company itself. You may even wish to ask how the economic forecast is shaping up; does it look like the business will still be able to employ you after October, once the furlough safety net has been taken away?

 

2. Take some time to reflect.

Really focus on what you desire from your life. Think about your career and your professional needs: what do you want to do now, and which direction do want to go in?

 

3. Consider whether you really want to return to your old job.

Ask yourself simple, direct questions: 'Am I happy to return to this job if it's still there? Is this genuinely the career I want, the work I find most fulfilling? Can I see a long-term future for this industry and my place in it?'

 

4. Plan your next steps.

If redundancy is inevitable - or if you've decided that, regardless of whether your position remains secure, you don't want to go back to the old normal - then it's time to think about what you want to do next. Do you take this opportunity to retrain and learn some new skills? Identify what knowledge and qualifications you'll need to make your dream career a reality, then find out how best to reach the required level.

 

5. Look for a clear, realistic career path.

Above all, look for the path that will lead to real opportunities in an area that's sustainable and growing. Whether you're looking to reboot or switch careers entirely, now is a great time to dream big and start building a new picture of your future career.

 

Sometimes, the most important decisions are the ones made for us. As daunting and unprecedented as the current crisis is, it could be your springboard to improved career prospects, especially if you have a long-term goal or ambition that didn't seem realistic before.

Inevitably, emotion will be a factor when you're asking yourself the big questions. It's impossible to provide a detached, purely rational answer to questions like 'If my profession ceased to exist, what career would I want to pursue instead?' or 'How can I reinvent myself?' If you've always thought about re-skilling (or up-skilling) but didn't have the inclination or the need a year ago, now may be the perfect time to take that leap, but use your head to think clearly - don't be swayed entirely by your emotions.

Ultimately, life is never without its difficulties, and there are bound to be setbacks along the way. We can't plan for every single occurrence, but what matters is how you bounce back and move forward. There's always light at the end of the tunnel, and this crisis won't last forever.

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." - President John F. Kennedy, 1963

Time for change

How do you start a new life in the middle of a global crisis? 2020 has been a life-changing year for almost all of us, but the economic turmoil and uncertainty have made things particularly difficult for those who were in the process of switching careers when the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

But perhaps this experience has given those individuals a head start. Whether or not your circumstances shielded you from the initial shock of COVID-19, we're all going to have to embrace change over the next couple of years.

On the 10th of August, the Financial Times reported that even established businesses - especially those in the retail, hospitality and travel sectors - were facing unprecedented challenges:

"According to the Enterprise Research Centre, a group of several leading universities, 21,000 more UK businesses collapsed in March than in the same month of 2019. The number of new companies also dropped dramatically, by 23 per cent."

Conversely, many entrepreneurs and their businesses are now thriving, most notably in construction and the trades. People in these sectors have been forced to learn new skills in order to overcome the setbacks that COVID-19 has thrown at them, and those new skills have opened up new opportunities.

In a survey of tradespeople and homeowners that was carried out by national builder's merchant Jewson across June and July, 73 per cent of tradespeople said that they were "optimistic" about the amount of work that will be coming their way over the next six months. The survey also highlighted the fact that 77 per cent of homeowners are planning to carry out work in their homes within the next six to twelve months.

Andrew Cushing, Jewson's Customer Director, said:

"We're delighted that the outlook is positive for the trade. Long may that continue, and we look forward to helping our customers grow their businesses."

So is this a good time to change careers after all? In the Financial Times article, a venture capitalist (an investor who provides funding to companies with high growth potential) said during an interview with journalist Janina Conboye that uncertainty can actually bring its own opportunities:

"If a change or a new beginning feels [...] right for you, I would say that being open to - or rather maybe willing to accept - all the unexpected opportunities is what will give you the strength to deal with the down moments of your choice or change, and ride the highs."

This might resonate with you if you're thinking about a career change but feel that it's not feasible right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe you've been reading all the headlines about the current uncertainty, and even though you're craving change, your fear is telling you to err on the side of caution until things get back to normal.

Changing your career certainly isn't a decision to be made lightly - that's true even during periods of stability. There are many factors you must consider, including your personal commitments and your own individual circumstances. But remember: while most decisions can be reversed, regret can last a lifetime.

With so much upheaval going on at the moment, it may be helpful to think about what your answer would be if, at some point in the future, you were asked this question:

What changes did you make during COVID-19?

Will you have a good answer? Will you be able to say that you followed your aspirations and achieved your goals?

When considering a career change, months or even years ago you might have said 'soon'. Last month, you might have said 'later'. And yesterday, you could have said 'tomorrow'. Is now your time to change? Only you can decide - it really is up to you whether you make that change or not.

As the proverb says, opportunity never knocks twice at any man's door. Whether you agree with this sentiment or not, remember: changing careers is your choice. Don't waste another day, week or month - we are here to help you get there. Talk to us today!

Browse Our Trade Courses   Contact Access Training

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

"Where you are now is based on the decisions you made 5 to 10 years ago. Where you will be in 5 to 10 years is based on the decisions you make now." - Vala Afshar, June 2020

Time for a career change

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong time to change careers - it's a question of circumstance and ambition versus confidence and opportunity. During difficult times, there are plenty of factors that can influence whether or not you feel ready for a career change; in the end, however, it comes down to you as an individual, your own determination, and your own faith and belief in yourself.

Many people have discovered a lot about themselves during lockdown. This applies to those placed on furlough and to key workers who have continued to work through this extraordinary period, but it's especially true for self-employed individuals whose work completely dried up when the lockdown began. For everyone, though, it's a question of whether now is the right time to change and why. Should you take that leap of faith? Or have you been pushed into making life-changing decisions when, actually, you feel hesitant to make a bold move?

Maturity allows us to reflect on decisions made earlier in our lives. During your younger years, you may not have had the confidence or the opportunity to go for the career you really wanted. But now, most students at Access Training Academies (who are mainly in their 30s) believe it's now or never. It's a case of 'Why not?' and 'If I don't do it now, am I going to have the chance again?'

Lockdown has given many the chance to think about this more than ever before. It has also provided the space and the time - away from a 'normal' routine - to have positive thoughts, against the overwhelmingly negative situation everyone was facing up to. Without a doubt, the decision to change can be quite scary; this is only natural, as it's an unknown quantity with an unknown outcome. But it could be an amazing opportunity for change, backed with the certainty that skills shortages remain and opportunities abound.​

Here at Access Training Academies, we learned very quickly during lockdown that many were confidently changing careers and still focusing all their energy positively into their online learning during live webinars that taught them the theory aspects of various trades. Many seemed to be using the lockdown as an opportunity to focus on their future lives and careers.

Confidence is a crucial factor when considering a career change, and a transition into the trades offers a clear potential for future prosperity. COVID-19 did limit on-site work at first (with many sites closing completely and homeowners unable to allow tradespeople into their homes), but the construction industry has become the catalyst to lift the country out of the COVID-19 economic crisis, and with that, many skilled people will be needed to get the work done and the country back on its feet.

So, if you're around 30 years old and you're considering learning a trade, is now the time? Here are 3 fundamental points for you to consider right now:

  1. Think about what trade you want to do and what kind of lifestyle you want. The kind of work you choose to do for a living will dictate what kind of lifestyle you'll have. Each trade offers something different that suits different personal characteristics and aspirations. We can advise you on this and many other aspects.

  2. Think about what service you can provide for paying customers. Consider what you would be able to provide with your newly-learned skills and qualifications gained. What skills do people need? And just importantly, what are you interested in? Talk to us so we can help you.

  3. Think about where you want to be in 5-10 years time. 5 to 10 years ago, you probably wouldn't have had the inclination to make the decision to change, or you may not have had what it takes to make a success of a new career in the trades. But you have amassed a great amount of valuable life experience since then - this can only come with maturity and the challenges that come with everyday life. Talk to us about your options.

Of course, the COVID-19 situation is a major influence on everything right now, but it won't be forever; 'the new norm' will eventually become second nature, and the trades sector will be one of the first - if not the first - to recover and grow markedly.

In fact, 'normality' appears to be returning already. Signs of economic improvement have been reported by Pimlico Plumbers. with company sales up £150,000 compared to the first two weeks of July last year. Pimlico has even set a company record by booking more than £280,000 worth of pre-scheduled jobs in a single week. Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers, said:

"There has been little good economic news since lockdown began, but I think there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Some experts have speculated that this time the recovery could be as lightning-fast as the collapse, and in our business, we are seeing sales data to back up that theory."

The time to change may never be 100% clear, but one thing's for sure: time waits for no one. Your career decisions right now will dictate where you will be in 5-10 years from now, and the opportunities are out there; it all depends on whether you have the confidence to make a change.

Talk to us today - our Career Support Team is here to help.

Browse Trade Courses   Contact Access Training

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

Photo from Pexels

Work is running dry in some sectors, but the UK's trade skills shortage could be your opportunity to bounce back.

A striking headline in the 19th July edition of The Sunday Times reads: "Work's running dry as 484 people apply for two precious pub vacancies".

Pint of beer in pub

This is followed by another startling stat: "£9-an-hour post triggers a stampede of highly qualified applicants".

But the numbers aren't the only noteworthy part of this story. Just as remarkable were the types of applicants one bar owner was hearing from before he pulled his job advert after only five days.

The Sunday Times article reported that former air stewards, restaurant managers and experienced shop workers - all recently made redundant - were among the hundreds of applicants, whereas normally pub and restaurant owners would expect to receive a dozen or so replies from youngsters with limited experience.

Up and down the country, the story is the same: employers are reporting a stampede of applications for entry-level roles that they would normally struggle to fill. One manager said:

"The quality of people looking for work right now is as good as it ever has been. Unfortunately it's because of the situation people have found themselves in."

Worringly, this could just be the tip of the iceberg - the government's furlough scheme may be giving many workers a false sense of normality right now, but according to some reports, a larger wave of unemployment could hit the UK very soon.

But ask yourself: do you need to take a backward step if this happens to you? Or could this be your opportunity to train for a different career - something you'll find truly rewarding?

 

Learn new career skills with Access Training Academies

Losing your job can be a scarring experience, but before you join the throng of people currently applying for entry-level work in bars and pubs, ask yourself: wouldn't it be more fulfilling to retrain and join an industry that's currently crying out for new workers?

In all likelihood, you've amassed considerable transferable life skills over the years, so why not make the change and become a professional tradesperson? Most think it's a bridge too far - that it's somehow beyond them, an unknown area of employment - but others see the opportunity in front of them and never look back.

The decision to change career is already being forced on many people. Will you seize the moment, discover your entrepreneurial spirit, use your life experience to your advantage, and start something new and rewarding?

"I did a course with these guys [Access Training Academies]...since I passed last year, I decided to go on my own. The phone hasn't stopped ringing since, and I'm at the point now where I have employed two extra guys."

- James Mummery, Professional Electrical Course

Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.

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