When I was leaving school the advice from teachers and career counsellors alike was simple – get a safe, secure job to pay the bills, invest in your pension and look forward to retirement.
The idea of pursuing a dream or passion was inadvisable compared to a steady wage that would keep clothes on your back and food on your plate so most people opted for what was then seen as a “job for life”.
These days the advice is somewhat different as many young people are lucky enough to be encouraged to explore higher education, enjoying new experiences along the way so they can find a role that suits their interests. Learning opportunities were until just recently seen as a young person’s game.
However, the pandemic seems to have changed all that.
Faced with a growing awareness of our own mortality, many people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond have started to reassess, thinking more about what’s important in life and how they want to spend whatever time they have left. And, unsurprisingly, sitting in an office from nine to five, Monday through Friday, doesn’t seem quite as appealing as it once did.
Over the past year, I have spoken to so many people who have decided they want to head in a different direction – Covid has opened up a fork in the road and they have chosen to venture down a path less travelled for some excitement, fulfilment and maybe even fun.
Take, for example, a good friend of mine who in her day job runs a restaurant. For a number of years now aromatherapy has been her passion and during the pandemic she decided to finally take the plunge, exploring how she could turn her hobby into a career.
She is a fully trained aromatherapist and has now started creating her own bespoke scents using essential oils only (no artificial fragrances) and has produced a range of candles and diffusers which she’s selling online. What’s more, she’s building a treatment room in her garden so she can welcome customers once restrictions allow. Isn’t that just fantastic?
For anyone hoping to follow suit and pursue a new vocation in later life, there was some really positive news in the Queen’s Speech last week. Outlining the legislative agenda for the coming 12 months, Boris Johnson revealed plans for a “lifetime skills guarantee”, which will allow everyone – regardless of age – to apply for a Government-backed loan for up to four years of study, including for part and full-time higher education, and training at university or college.
In his speech, Johnson said: “I’m revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives.”
Way to go, Boris.
If you have worked in the same profession, trade or perhaps even company your whole life, I can see how this programme would be very appealing. So many people are stuck in a rut because there isn’t an incentive to try something new, not to mention the difficulty of finding money to invest in training, so it’s great to see funds are being made available to help us spread our wings and build for the future.
The full details of the proposed scheme are yet to be announced, but I’m glad to see such a positive initiative is being considered.
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