Changing Career After Children

Juggling work and family is complex. A new survey by national education provider, Open Study College, has revealed that a third (33%) of women changed careers after having children.

The survey, commissioned as part of a campaign to encourage mothers to pursue their dream careers, polled over 2,000 working parents across the UK with children aged 2-17. Of the sample, 49% (972 respondents) were female.

Open Study College’s survey found nearly half (42%) of the females polled felt that childcare is the most ‘family-friendly’ profession, closely followed by jobs in the health and social care sector, (38%) and being a teaching assistant (38%), while 34% said being a police officer is one of the least family-friendly careers. 

The survey also found that, of the women polled, 30% had enrolled on education courses since the birth of their child/children, with 45% saying the key reason was to increase their earning potential; 44% said it was to provide for their family. 

Despite the current rise in cost of living, the survey found that the main factors new mothers looked for when heading back into the workplace are not money orientated, and included an easy commute (48%), understanding colleagues (44%) and an understanding boss (39%).

Are these the kinds of things you value?

It emerged that more than half (54%) of women wish they could work in a more family-friendly environment. Only 16% of the women polled ‘strongly believe’ it was a seamless transition heading back to work after the birth of their child and these were women with support from family (usually grandparents being a back-up and helping to care for children).

51% of women think flexible/split day working hours are most useful to assist parents of young children followed by the opportunity to work from home (48%).

Samantha Rutter, CEO of Open Study College said: “Each year we see a huge variety of people enrolling on our courses for a host of different reasons. This campaign was inspired by recent student data which tells us that over 70% of people enrolling with us are females, and when asked about the reason for distance learning many explained that they’ve recently had a child/children and are looking to upskill to enhance their careers or to keep up with industry changes, or need to retrain because they’re looking to completely switch career paths. 

“Either way it is clear that some parents are struggling when it comes to getting back into work and we believe that flexible learning can help open doors to more options for them, be that in existing jobs or the possibility of a whole new career path around their children – putting family first.” 

It’s clear that this issue is significant for so many people. I don’t think that when you are training for your original profession, at university or in the early years of your career it really crosses your mind that you will need to make a shift at some point in order to juggle work and family life. For example, one mum I know has a law degree but her firm were so inflexible and it was so stressful following the birth of her children, she now rents a car from KJ PCO and delivers parcels around her children’s needs.

Have you had to make a shift in career since having children? Do any of these findings ring true with your own situation?

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