How the world of work is changing
Planning a career can be tough in an ever-changing job market. It's not just the job itself you've got to consider; it's the working hours, work environment, pay and training opportunities as well.
For example, not all workers are simply employed by a company. There are lots more people working on short and fixed term contracts instead of full-time, permanent ones.
Some people choose to get temporary jobs through an employment agency. This means that they work for different companies for a set amount of time. Other people work on a freelance basis, meaning that they work for themselves, but take on short-term contracts for companies. Freelancers often have a great deal of experience in a specialised area.
The workforce is now more skilled and qualified than ever. With employers having a larger group of candidates to choose from, it can be hard to get into work if you can't show that you have some qualifications or skills.
There are lots of ways to improve your range of skills, so speak to a careers adviser to find out how.
Different jobs, different types of working
Starting at 9.00 am, finishing at 5.00 pm with an hour for lunch somewhere in the middle may still be considered a working day, but for more and more people it's not a reality. Some jobs, like nursing or manufacturing depend on using shift patterns, meaning working during the night and early morning.
Some jobs will be outside, some will be in an office, some will be in a workshop or industrial environment and some will be more physically demanding than others.
When you're applying for a job or planning a career, it may be worth thinking about what sort of environment you work best in and whether you have other commitments or responsibilities that could prevent you from having different working hours. This will make sure that your working schedule fits in with the rest of your life.
Working patterns are now more flexible so that workers can balance career and personal commitments. Many companies or organisations see the benefit in allowing their staff a certain amount of flexibility in their working hours.
Some people have a right to ask for flexible working, but a lot of employers now let employees organise their work around their home life.
Types of flexibility include:
- letting people work from home on certain days
- allowing people to start and finish at different times of the day
- letting more than one person share a job (job sharing)
You may want to find out what sort of working opportunities a company offers before applying for a job with them, especially if you have responsibility for a child or you are studying for qualifications outside working hours.
Working for yourself
Instead of becoming an employee of a company or organisation, some people prefer to work for themselves or start a business of their own. Although most people who work for themselves have usually built up a number of years experience in a particular career area, more young people are becoming self-employed immediately after they finish studying.
Starting your own business can be tough. You need to have a business plan and depending on the sort of business you are trying to set up, enough money to pay for premises, electricity, power and even smaller things like stationery and supplies. It can all add up.
There are a number of organisations that can help you if you want to become self-employed or start your own business.
- Go For It website
- Starting a business when under 30 (nibusinessinfo.co.uk)
- Support for starting a business (Prince's Trust website)
Working and learning
If you're working, it doesn't mean that you stop learning. There will be lots of opportunities for you to learn new things, so make the most of any chances you get. Remember that even skills that do not seem relevant at the moment may come in useful later on.
Some employers may pay for the costs of training courses that you may want to take if they feel it would benefit you in your current role. When you apply for a job, ask what training or opportunities are available. You will need to find out whether it is run by the company you work for, or an external training provider like a college.
If you're in a job that doesn't offer any training opportunities, you may be entitled to time off if you want to study for certain qualifications.