Do you hate your job? Maybe you feel like you’re just having one long bad day in the office. According to research from Vodafone, those aged 31 – 35 are the most likely to be unhappy at work. The main reasons for this are feeling undervalued, feeling under motivated and being unfulfilled. The main consequence could be a desire for a complete change of direction at age 35+. But is this really possible? Given the competitive nature of the jobs market and the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation could make many of today’s employment opportunities irrelevant ten years from now, is this really a wise move – and if so what are your options?
Work out what you want
Step 1, whatever stage of life you’re at, is to figure out what you want to do next. Being generally unhappy in your job isn’t a good reason to try something new. If you don’t have a genuine desire to do something else then it’s often worth looking at other, less drastic options. Could you ask for a raise or more responsibility in your current job? Are there any options for training with your current employer? Could you take a sabbatical or apply for a secondment to another office or a client business? Consider all the options you currently have without a serious career move before you do anything.
Before you jump….what about the AI revolution?
In May of this year the newspapers were full of statistics from a report by PWC that predicted 30% of UK jobs will be swallowed up by ‘robots’ by 2030. This led to slight hysteria with visions of Terminator style robots becoming smarter than humans and taking everything we have as a result. However, the reality of AI is that it’s not about taking jobs from humans but creating new ways of working that make human jobs easier and processes more efficient. Bringing AI into the mix could do away with some jobs – but create others. Accenture, for example, recently automated 25,000 of its jobs with AI. And the number of human redundancies as a result? Zero. While companies will always look for ways to be more efficient and cut costs, most now recognise the necessity of the human contribution.
A new kind of employee
If you’re looking to retrain age 35+ it’s worth bearing in mind the influence of AI on the jobs market in the future. Those who have the skills to work alongside AI are tapping into a whole new vein of potential employability. IBM (in an open letter to President Donald Trump) said late last year that alongside ‘blue collar’ and ‘white collar’ roles we should now also have a ‘new collar’ category. This type of role is a mid point between professional and trade work. It brings together technical skills and a knowledge base informed by higher education. It’s this hybrid skills mix that is most likely to be in demand in the new age of automation and worth bearing in mind for those seeking a change now.
Exploring the changes ahead
Regardless of whether you’re keen to enter the new AI economy or not, if you’re 35+ looking to move careers or retrain you still have lots of options.
Set up on your own – if you still enjoy the basics of what you’re doing, but want to do it in a different way, freelancing, consultancy and entrepreneurship are possible whatever stage you’re at in your career. Depending on the type of business or industry you plan to work in you may also be able to get funding to pay for retraining and new ventures, from grants to peer-to-peer loans.
Distance learning – if you don’t want to take the plunge and leave a current career without any skills or experience already under your belt then look at distance learning. Institutions such as the Open University offer courses in everything from IT to psychology.
Evenings and part time – evening courses and part time training and study can open the door to a new career. Many employers are very flexible about allowing time off for study, particularly if it relates to your current sector, however tenuous that link is.
Corporate sponsorship or apprenticeship – many businesses relish the opportunity to bring experienced minds into the business so it’s always worth enquiring about sponsored training or an opportunity where you can combine being trained and working at the same time. Some apprenticeships may have age restrictions, as they’re aimed at helping young people into work, but many don’t.
Look specifically at ‘new collar’ roles – according to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty these roles are likely to be targeting areas such as cyber security, data science, and general AI, including jobs such as server technicians and database managers. These new collar roles will impact in every industry and there is likely to be a wide range of retraining opportunity as a result of the demand for these skill sets.
From pioneering the new collar sector, to opting for distance learning in a new industry, if you want to move careers or retrain at 35+ then it’s entirely possible to do. And it’s worth the effort – a smart move now could open the door to a much brighter, and more fulfilling, future.