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Where Will Your Skills Take You?

November 6, 2018

Studying the changes taking place in our economy and across industries is vital to understanding why and where opportunities lie and, in turn, making informed choices about your career direction. You need to think about your next steps; whether you need to retrain, upskill, what elements of your experience are transferable and to where. You must also consider what areas or sectors interest you and which of these offer opportunities that are a ‘fit’ for you.


The UK continues to be a world leader in the technology space and long may this continue. The fields of medical science and biotechnology are booming, but so too are communication and information technology, fields in which the UK has always been strong. The more global we become, the greater our dependence on technology and communications infrastructures grows, with the advent of cyber security bringing an added dimension. The aerospace and defence sectors are also where we are considered world leaders. This means that technical and design skills will be in demand, and the growth of technology across all disciplines could offer interesting careers for those with the aptitude and passion for this field.


As with technology, there will continue to be demand within the engineering sector. Civil engineering will always draw focus but you should look at the growing emphasis on advanced manufacturing, medical technology, aerospace and energy. These are all areas that continually develop and offer opportunities. The number of courses and qualifications are also increasing, together with the differentiation in roles from operator to technician, designer to engineer. It remains a very interesting and growing space for those with the right skills and ambitions.


Wherever we are and whatever we do, goods and services need to move around in order for the global economy to work. Some elements of logistics, such as transportation, have been impacted by rising fuel prices, cheaper labour from overseas, and developments such as 3D printing where a design can be shared globally but built and distributed locally. However, logistics remains at the heart of industry as is evidenced by the construction of major warehousing and storage facilities, as well as the adaptation of older industrial estates to accommodate these developments. These supply chain operations have provided excellent opportunities for this looking to move into the logistics field or leverage their previous careers and experience.


There has been a great deal of media attention focused on skills shortages within the construction industry and this is a very real concern. Where will the electricians, plumbers, and joiners of the future come from if school leavers are forsaking the established routes into these trades? This represents an opportunity for career-changers to build themselves a future by re-training and either taking the entrepreneurial path to self-employment or joining one of the many construction giants crying out for reinforcements. There is also huge demand for the newer, specialist trades that have emerged over the years: PC maintenance, rework specialists, solar engineers, smart-home technicians, digital locksmiths and many more.


A great many people are unaware that large businesses employ around 10% of the UK’s total workforce. In reality, it is the smaller businesses, the SME sector, that employs the vast majority of people. Not only is this sector more flexible, but you can build a wider array of skills and capabilities through your work and continually develop in your career. Despite the belief that employment security is lower with SMEs, it is often larger organisations that cut staff while smaller companies are often more agile and can adapt to harsher environments, often retaining staff through creative means.

Remember, you are not restricted to just one career path - many people are now changing careers several times during their working lives. So, keep an open mind and keep your finger on the pulse of the changing economy.

About the Author

Giles O'Halloran is an experienced HR and Recruitment professional who works as a freelance consultant, strategist, writer and coach. He also spent 12 years as a reservist with the UK's Reserve Forces, serving first with the TA and later with the RAuxAF. Giles is passionate about technology, the value of networks and the future of work.


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