Paused for thought

Paused for thought

Monday, 18 January 2016

Monday coffee break - 18th January

Tim Peake’s space walk last week caused great excitement in our household. The idea that you can become an astronaut and walk in space and live in space and still communicate with Earth is a source of fascination for our young children. Not only did it spark conversations about space, it also sparked a discussion around career choices. Vet to refuse collector, fisherman to accountant, gardener to administrator, we talked about them all.

I’m not sure if it stems from career advice at school, my HR background or my outlook on life, but I realise how lucky we are that we can have these conversations. That no profession is out of bounds and, perhaps more importantly, that it is entirely possible and sometimes necessary to change our career, which we can do with increasing ease. I think back to my parents’ generation. There were definitely some vocations now considered mainstream that were thought to be more unsuitable than others. In an interview with Jeremy Paxman conducted back in 1999, David Bowie discusses how he wanted to be a musician because it seemed “rebellious”, “subversive” and “a dead dodgy occupation to have”, whereas entering the world of pop or rock music is now a “career opportunity”. You don’t have to look far for courses to suit any budget to support your chosen occupation or career change either. Future Learn is a fantastic resource, as is the Open University, depending on what you are looking to study. Part time courses, full time courses for mature students, anything is possible.

Whilst I delight in this, I wonder if there might come a time though where the world of work becomes so accessible to so many that we might be in danger of becoming a nation, or several nations, of, to quote a famous saying ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’? That we will lose those essential skills necessary for any civilisation. Only last year there were reports that bricklayers were in short supply in the UK compared to the demand for new housing. I wonder if that will happen to a number of professions as others seem more attractive or as people change with ease between different occupations trying to find their perfect fit. I have no solution for this, except to add my thought that investing more in teachers and careers advisers to excite children and adolescents to follow their dreams and remain focussed and positive despite any setbacks that occur is surely a step in the right direction. Some people need change, some people want change, but there should be an element of celebration for those who decline major change too. For those who ride out the mistakes and wrong directions, for they will happen, and come through with increased determination.

For the meantime, I must return to my career change – once an HR professional, now a mother, housewife and occasional writer. The irony of my thoughts sitting on my shoulders as I ponder over them.

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