So, you have decided that you need a change, but where do you start? It is easy to look for something similar, something that uses our existing skills, but this is a project that will define your working career going forward. And one that deserves a good plan.
I recommend starting with a list of all the possible career options and work through them to narrow down the possibilities and open up new possibilities for consideration. This is an opportunity to change and it is worth doing the groundwork to get it right.
To Study or to work?
For years there were two options, full time education or get a job. Now, thankfully we can do both, with so many choices for part time education, blended learning and in more recent times online learning.
Online learning isn’t new, it has been around for some time, but its value has been magnified as a fallout from covid-19. In my recent blog ‘The challenges and benefits of online learning,’ I spoke about being an online facilitator and a student, (LINK), Right now, you don’t have to choose – you can learn and earn.
There is no doubt our education system is changing, with high levels of youth unemployment in Ireland, (2.5 times that of the normal rate), one of the reasons cited is lack of education and a second is lack of experience.
The focus of education programmes going forward is to have a combined experience of training and practical experience which has always been part of certain professions including apprenticeships and accounting and the medical professions. Imagine having a heart surgeon operate on you knowing their qualification came only from lectures without any hands-on experiences or the bus driver on his first drive, only having learnt to drive from a book.
So how do you develop a skill?
The 4 levels of learning are essential to developing a skill.
- unconscious incompetence, (we don’t know what we don’t know)
- conscious incompetence (we know we don’t know)
- conscious competence (we are competent when we play close attention)
- unconscious competence (we have mastered our skills/new habit).
Skills and habits are developed on both the mental and physical level through mental and physical muscle memory.
It is evident that, notwithstanding the restrictions of living with the pandemic, we are moving to an education system where all third level courses will include a work experience element to provide learners with the ability to apply their knowledge and skills. This will apply to a far wider range of professions going forward.
What’s your ‘Why’, why do you want to pursue further education or training?
There are a number of factors to be considered when you are looking to upskill or change direction.
One of the first and most significant is your why. My ‘Why’ for continuing my own journey in training and education has always been to gain knowledge and understanding of subject matter and of course the application of the knowledge.
If you are already in a job, you might be looking to move, to get a promotion or to change the pace of your life. You might have lost your job as a result of circumstances beyond your control. There are numerous reasons, but as a first step it is important to undercover your why.
In the words of Stephen Covey – Start with the end in mind, you don’t want to climb a ladder to discover the ladder is leaning against that wrong wall. Too many people choose a course or career based on the course content without considering working in the field.
If you are considering a change of career or returning to the workplace, it is essential to research the job thoroughly. Is this an area of growth, with a skills shortage or is there a declining demand. Recent events have changed the shape of the economy, so research is vital.
Salary – if this is a priority for you, check out the pay rates for the position. Take note of geographical areas too as this is a factor. Many people have higher expectations than the job offers and its often too late to discover this half way through a course
Decision making – if you are struggling to make a decision, find a list of possible career options and narrow the list by using these factors to help you come to a conclusion.
What are your options?
If you are considering returning to education, there are a number of options for free and part funded courses and training:
The Right Course was recently published by the Irish Government as your one-stop-shop for finding out the opportunities available to you or your employee
Springboard offer a wide variety of courses from level 6 to level 9 on the NFQ, many of the courses are a combination of online lectures and live classroom sessions.
The Education and Training Boards (ETB) offer a range of courses both online and in classroom which are open to individuals returning to work and people in employment.
Apprenticeships are the answer in a number of fields. Here you would undertake a qualification and work in the industry. Options now include the insurance and accounting professions where after a few years, you can achieve a degree in the profession and a couple of years’ experience while also gaining practical on the job experience.
There is nothing that should stand in your way to your dream occupation. If you want to avail of career coaching or even schedule a quick call to discuss options, please get in touch.
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