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Barriers to reskilling leave UK employees feeling trapped on their career path

A survey by BT has revealed that, given the opportunity, 69% of people would reskill and work in a different specialism, with technology (18%), health (17%) and finance (10%) topping the list of sectors that people wished they could switch to.

Many employed UK adults dream of changing their situation, as nearly a quarter (22%) of the UK’s workforce have revealed they’re unhappy in their current job role, while almost half (42%) feel trapped in their current field of work with no clear way to change their career path.

However, research shows the barriers to gaining the skills needed to make a change are too great, leaving Brits feeling left on the shelf. Over a third (31%) believe they are too old to learn new skills, (28%) say the uncertainty of getting a foot in the door of a new industry is their biggest worry and (24%) said they can’t afford to take time off to study and get the necessary accreditations for their dream role.

Yet, while employees are looking to challenge themselves with new skills and responsibilities, nearly one in ten (8%) fear that their current role would be put at risk if their company knew they were interested in other work. That doubles (19%) amongst young people (18-24 year olds) who also say their greatest barrier to retraining is that they don’t know how to change their situation (39%).

BT recently launched a first-of-a-kind 16-week reskilling programme, in collaboration with CAPSLOCK, to help tackle the shortfall of people with cyber security skills and continue its commitment to investing in its people. The initiative will see BT employees from across its Consumer and Global divisions supported as they make bold changes to their career path through being reskilled and placed into crucial cyber security roles, all while keeping their pay cheque.

However, despite the strong job stability and career path that cybersecurity offers, BT’s research suggests more needs to be done in relation to awareness and perceptions of the industry. Before being told more about the sector, only 4% of UK adults would consider cyber as an alternative industry if they were to retrain; this reduces to as little as 1% for people who identify as females.

When asked to describe a cybersecurity professional, over half (54%) said male, compared to (18%) female. In addition, 39% of people said they imagined someone with a bachelor degree or above. The perception of the job is that it’s too technical (32%), with little understanding of how valuable other soft skills could be applicable (45%).

The perception that new and evolving fields of work require expert technical skills to do well can put off potential employees who want to make a change to their career path. CAPSLOCK’s mission in partnership with BT is to change that perception because they believe with the right attitude, determination, and support, anybody – no matter their experience, education or age – has the potential to start a career in IT, technology, or cyber security.

Jamie, a former call centre Team Leader and one of 30 BT employees that have started the 16-week online course said: “I’d never even considered a role in cybersecurity before discussing the reskilling programme with a colleague. I never went to university so I didn’t feel like I had the right educational background and couldn’t imagine how I’d get my foot in the door of a job like this. Being able to reskill and make that jump to future-proof my career is a chance to reach my full potential.”

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