Nearly three in five of us have given up hope of landing our dream job

26 November 2019

Woman working with face in hands

A staggering 57% of us admit we’ve lost all hope of ever doing a job that we love, according to a new study commissioned by AAT.

Of these, 34% of working adults say they have left it too late, while a further 34% believe they are not confident enough to take that step into the unknown. The average age at which they threw in the towel on their dream career was just 30.

And while 37% find their current role rewarding, 34% find it incredibly stressful, three in ten (31%) find it exhausting, and more than one in ten (13%) feel it doesn’t challenge them in the slightest.

However, many workers have suggested that training and development would be a great benefit. The study found that more than seven in ten (77%) of the nation’s workers would like more training at work, while 46% would love to gain more qualifications to help them in their current job. 16% of Brits, indeed, want more qualifications in order to start their own business.

38% of Brits said that, while they would jump at the chance to develop their career, they felt completely unsupported by their bosses to do so. And 40% of employers admitted that they have staff who would be much better in their job given the right motivation and training.

Little wonder then, perhaps, that 64% of British workers say they feel very jealous of people who seem to adore their careers.

“I found my dream job long after turning 30” 

Nicola Donnelly, 38, lives in Croxteth, Liverpool with her two children Ellie and Mikey. She knows what it is like to find her dream job after she had turned 30, as at that point, Nicola had no qualifications and was unable to get any interviews.

She started attending the Knowsley Unemployed Centre, which had a free Sage course every Wednesday morning. From there, she gained her AAT qualifications, and then a Diploma in Management Accounting from CIMA.

This led Nicola to starting her own practice, Mend Accounting, five years ago when aged 33. The business now has 70 clients and she works on it full-time, having gained a first-class degree in Accountancy through ACCA in summer 2019.

Through her work, she has been able to start taking her children on dream holidays. “From a single parent on benefits to a mum with her own business, gaining AAT qualifications really did change my life, and helped me find my dream job.”

Many workers haven’t taken extra courses or qualifications

The study also revealed that 27% of Brits haven’t taken any courses or earned any further qualifications since they left secondary school or university.

Of those, 30% believe that such formal development "wasn’t something they need in their line of work" while 16% insisted their employer simply doesn’t invest in courses and training for its staff.

Interestingly, the study revealed a split between the two great university cities of Cambridge and Oxford when it came to the last time people took qualifications.

It’s been an average of 9.4 years since people based in Cambridge last sat an exam or studied a course – one of the highest nationally along with Newcastle (9.2 years) and Edinburgh (8.8 years).

In contrast, people living in Oxford last studied 7.2 years ago, one of the lowest figures in Britain along with Brighton (7.3 years) and Nottingham (7.5 years).

Rob Alder, business development manager for AAT, said: “While many British workers say they have given up hope of landing their dream job, it’s interesting that the top reasons given – a lack of confidence or belief that they are now too old to act – are perceptions rather than actual barriers. In truth, there should be no barrier to furthering your career. Increasing numbers of employers and individuals recognise the benefits of keeping your skillset up to date – not least because the digital disruption means roles are changing, representing both opportunities and threats.

“It’s especially telling that companies themselves have admitted they could do more to engage their employees, with the average manager feeling that 31% of their workforce has lost all motivation in the workplace. One way to address this is through investment in effective training and qualifications which can help boost staff morale, productivity and effectiveness.”

Brits prepared to pay for career-enhancing qualifications

The research, of almost 2,500 British workers and employers, also found that the average British worker would be prepared to shell out £518 of their own money to get a qualification that would lead to a better job or furthering their current role.

Again, there were some interesting regional and gender divides in this area. While Londoners were prepared to pay an average of £727.23 for a course – slightly more than employers were willing to pay for their workers (£723.72), people in Plymouth were a lot more frugal, only happy to pay an average of £351.64.

In addition, men were far happier than women to spend in order to further their career, with male workers willing to shell out £591.63 compared to just £453.82 for female workers.

Despite this, more women than men feel that their current job is stressful (40% compared to 23%), and women were also more likely than men to say that family commitments were holding them back from pursuing their dream career (31% compared to 21%).

AAT is calling on employers to grow their workers in order to enable them to contribute in the best possible way. For more on how AAT can help train and upskill both finance and non-finance staff, visit AAT Train Your Staff.