A Third of Women Change Career After Having Children

As a new mom myself I have learned that bringing a baby into your life turns your whole world around, and brings with it so many changes. We know the obvious changes such as learning new parenting skills – is this how a nappy is supposed to go on? –  to learning how to function on very little sleep (I’m writing this after a whopping 4 hours of shut eye total last night!).

But did you know that there are plenty of changes that aren’t so obvious? Such as our change in perspective. There is just something about your life changing almost overnight once your baby arrives and having this amazing, albeit overwhelming, responsibility that makes you question your new direction.

So it’s not surprising to learn that a third of women in the UK change their career paths after having a baby. A recent survey by Open Study College, one of the UK’s leading distance learning providers, polled 2000 parents across the UK with 49% of those polled being women. The survey comes about after the college learned that over 70% of people enrolling with them were female. Samantha Rutter, CEO of Open Study College said: “When asked about the reason for distance learning many explained that they’ve recently had a child/children and are looking to upskill to enhance their careers or to keep up with industry changes, or need to retrain because they’re looking to completely switch career paths.”

Switching career paths can be quite daunting but the wide range of courses offered today can lead to opportunities you may not have even thought of before. The shift in perspective and having time away from work gives people a chance to think about what really works for them as a family. Nearly half (42%) of the women surveyed felt that childcare is the most ‘family-friendly’ profession, followed by jobs in the health and social care sector,(38%) and being a teaching assistant (38%). On the other side of that, 34% said being a police officer is one of the least family friendly careers.

Moreover, embarking on a new career journey can be intimidating. Yet, individuals can explore unforeseen avenues of growth and professional development with the diverse array of courses available, such as certification for coach training. These certifications expand one’s skill set and open doors to exciting opportunities that may have remained undiscovered otherwise.

It is completely understandable then that 54% of women surveyed wish they could work in a more family-friendly environment. Unfortunately, not all work places or employers understand the demands of having a young family at home. You never switch off as a parent, you will always have one eye on the phone in case the school calls or their minder needs you home early. Our children will always come first, and rightly so, but finding the balance in the workplace can be difficult.

So what would make things easier?

The survey found that 51% of women think that flexible or split day working hours are more helpful to assist parents of young children, followed by 48% saying the opportunity to work from home would be beneficial. The amount of time spent commuting takes away from valuable family time – it’s no wonder that 48% of the women surveyed put an easy commute as one of their prioritise when heading back into the workplace.

The survey by Open Study College was commissioned as part of a campaign to encourage mothers to pursue their dream careers after having children. 30% of the women polled had enrolled on education courses since the birth of their child, in order to increase their earning potential and provide for their families. 

Samantha mentioned that: “It is clear that some parents are struggling when it comes to getting back into work and we believe that flexible learning can help open doors to more options for them, be that in existing jobs or the possibility of a whole new career path around their children – putting family first.” 

Alexandra Manning

Alexandra Manning is a writer and new mom living in Donegal, Ireland. She runs her own small business called Brand Studio, but has also finally learned the joy of slowing down. She enjoys spending time with her baby girl and husband, and their mini zoo (3 dogs and 2 cats!), either exploring the outdoors or watching too many movies. You can chat with Alexandra on Twitter @AlexandraKateM.