The word ‘furlough’ is one we’ve all been acquainted with from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In England, at the beginning of lockdown, about 8m people were put on the government-backed job retention scheme in order to protect millions from unemployment. Now recent government figures show 1.55m people were on the scheme at the end of June this year. And in two weeks’ time, the scheme will finally end after being extended numerous times.
By now, many would have learnt if they are being let go or whether they will be returning to work. And while in the first two quarters of 2021, we have seen a massive boost to business confidence, as the economy continues to grow since reopening, we tread with guarded optimism in light of new variants and possible government policy changes.
Losing your job is never an easy situation and I would never underestimate the impact on people that are expected to lose theirs in the coming weeks. However, I firmly believe this is a window of opportunity to explore something new and reskill. There are a record number of jobs out there in various sectors which could be the push that’s needed to start a new chapter.
In August this year, ACCA ran a ‘rethinking careers’ campaign where we discussed the effects of the pandemic on young people’s career journeys, shining the spotlight on the accountancy profession.
The Covid-19 crisis has made a lot of people rethink career aspirations and their futures. It has transformed the world of work, shaking up how businesses and organisations are run in ways that mean the role of accountants is wider and more important than ever before. And it’s highlighted how this profession offers a secure and flexible career whatever your age.
For the next generation, developing strategic accountancy skills offers a great launchpad to success. It gives the opportunity to learn valuable skills, to be paid well and enjoy greater security of employment. It offers a good work-life balance, with varied and meaningful work for organisations with purpose and values. And it also provides the opportunity to contribute towards a better, fairer, more sustainable future for everyone.
I was blown away at the sheer courage and determination of some of our new students – young and older. It was inspirational to hear their stories and I am sure they’ll inspire others too.
Our research reveals the pandemic proved to be a time of ‘career contemplation’ for many young people across the country. With many being placed on furlough, those aged 16 – 24 were pushed into reassessing their career paths and to take up new qualifications helping them to find their feet within entirely new sectors.
Cristina Oprea, London
Cristina, 24, was a nursery chef from South London who, before the pandemic, didn’t feel as though she was realising her full potential. She had always known she wanted to continue her studies but didn’t know where and how to start. After being furloughed in Spring last year, and with much time to reflect she gravitated towards either a law degree or accountancy. In the end, she opted to study accountancy with ACCA and in Cristina’s words she’s ‘truly happy and proud’ with her career choice in the last year.
Cristina now has started work as an accounts assistant for a care home company and has recently purchased her first property too.
Gaurav Kumar, Manchester
Before the pandemic, Gaurav, 37, worked in the hospitality sector in Manchester. He worked in the hotel industry looking after serviced apartments that were forced to close during the crisis and thus was furloughed. Gaurav had always loved working with numbers and when he was furloughed, enrolled with ACCA. He now has started a new job at Barclays while he continues his studies.
Out of a thousand 16 – 24 year olds surveyed, our poll also revealed 40% of respondents said financial security was very important to them when looking at their career options and selecting their future path. They believe professional qualifications can help increase chances of a job and being financially stable and secure.
ACCA aims to help students and members to grow and maximise their potential by identifying exactly what capabilities are required in different roles and at different levels, and helping them to map their own skills.
Furlough coming to an end will inevitably mean some tough decisions will have to be made – over the summer we had called for it to be extended, but we realise this will not be the case. So I wish all those who find themselves in this position all the very best, that you take the widest possible look for the opportunities ahead, and take inspiration from those who have taken a leap of change.