Changing careers is never easy. But as AAT member Linda Fleet shows, going from supermarket checkout to studying accountancy is not as big a leap as you might think.
Statistics show the average person has 10 to 14 jobs in their lifetime and three or four career changes. There are many reasons why people seek to have change careers. For some, it’s because they want a chance to do something completely different, others may want a change of pace or circumstances, and for others greater job satisfaction.
And as a recent thread on AAT’s Facebook page showed, people turn to AAT from all sorts of backgrounds, be it personal training, waitressing or riding racehorses for a living. And with initiatives like Adult Learners Week (12-18 May) still to come this year, there has never been a better time to re-train.
Linda Fleet is one of those people. She worked for 13 years as a checkout supervisor at Asda. After reaching the milestone of turning 50, Linda thought it was time for a change and felt inspired to pursue a new career path. She visited her local college and decided to sign up for the AAT Accounting Qualification.
‘At first I studied full time but after doing six weeks work experience during the course, the accountancy practice asked me to stay on permanently,’ she explains. ‘Retraining for a new career over the age of 50 was a daunting experience and I had worried about getting a job at my age. I was so pleased that I wouldn’t even need to start searching once I had completed the qualification.’
After working at the practice for 10 years, Linda took the brave step of branching out alone. At the age of 63, she launched Office Solutions, her own practice in management accounting, with several clients joining her from her previous employer. Two years on, Linda now works two days a week on a contract basis for one company and the other days are taken up with various clients.
Linda continues: ‘I had initially intended to work four days a week but I have so much on that I often work weekends and evenings too! The flexibility in terms of hours and time is fantastic and despite being at an age when most people retire, I will keep going as long as possible. I think the older generation has a lot to offer in terms of skills and experience and the AAT qualification definitely gave me the confidence to go it alone.’
Linda is not alone in creating her own career opportunities by retraining for a new qualification. 5.5% of students training with AAT, the UK’s leading provider of vocational accounting qualifications, are over the age of 50.
The idea of studying can often be dismissed by an older generation, who may assume learning is only for the young. However, retraining for a new career is becoming an increasingly realistic option for older people, as it equips them with new skills to make them more employable and can provide the opportunity to launch their own business.
More information on Adult Learners Week is available on its official website.
Steven Perryman is AAT Comment's former Content Editor.