The average British worker believes it’s too late to change careers by the age of 45 - because they can't keep up with technology

By Richard Jenkins
Thursday, 31st March 2022, 3:22 pm
Updated Friday, 1st April 2022, 12:52 pm

A study of 2,000 adults found 21 per cent would like to retrain and start a new career, but worry they are ‘too old’, while almost one in five (17 per cent) feel they lack the digital skills needed to take this step.

A fear of change and a lack of confidence are the biggest barriers to changing careers for 30 per cent of adults, but 22 per cent worry they don't have the ability to learn a new job, or simply don’t know where to begin.

One in seven (14 per cent) even believe they have lost out on a job due to their lack of digital skills, while 12 per cent think they have been offered a lower salary for the same reason.

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But it has also meant 19 per cent have decided against applying for a job and 25 per cent would be reluctant to start their own business.

It's never too late to learn new skills

The study was commissioned by Santander UK, through Santander Universities, to launch its free online introductory level digital skills course with 50,000 places available, to support lifelong learning and those facing challenges presented by the pandemic.

Matt Hutnell, director, Santander Universities UK, said: “There is a misperception that you reach a point where you’ve left it too late to learn new skills, especially when it comes to technology.

“Re-skilling or up-skilling can be daunting, especially if you aren’t that confident when it comes to new tech, which can become a huge barrier when it comes to changing careers or trying to get back into work.

“This has only been exacerbated by the pandemic as various roles have become increasingly digital with the move to more remote working.

“But learning a few small skills, or simply getting more confident in the ones you already know can really open up your career options, whether you want to upskill in your current career, start a new one or get back into work following some time out.

“Our free digital skills course, as part of our Lifelong Learning campaign, is designed to give people the introduction they will need to start improving their digital skills.

“So many people have been affected by the pandemic, whether they are now unemployed or in a career which is now struggling. We want to help give people the skills they need to give their working life a boost.”

Although the pandemic has seen many move to home working and become more self-reliant with online systems, the study found some feel they still struggle with some ‘basic’ digital tasks.

When asked about their confidence levels in completing 24 different things, such as creating formulas in a spreadsheet or backing up files to a cloud, 82 per cent had at least one task they did not feel completely confident they could do.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) would find it hard to create a presentation and despite the rise of video calls during the pandemic, 22 per cent aren’t completely confident setting up a virtual meeting or sharing their screen during a call.

For job seekers looking for something new, 16 per cent also worry they would struggle to upload their CV online while 15 per cent aren’t confident they could apply for jobs via the internet.

A quarter (25 per cent) worry they wouldn’t be able to use LinkedIn – a key platform to source and apply for new roles.

Some are looking for a new challenge

But it also emerged 40 per cent are looking to embark on a new challenge at work over the next year.

For 17 per cent of those, the change is driven by their current field struggling with the effects of Covid 19, but 21 per cent feel the pandemic gave them the opportunity to re-evaluate their career.

Others are feeling more ambitious (14 per cent) or motivated to start something new (10 per cent), while 18 per cent have used the time to learn new skills to open up more roles to them.

In partnership with the Institute of Coding, and TechUP initiative based at Durham University, the Your Digital Pathway course aims to support people to take the first step on the pathway to building their digital skills, to help them return to or start education, return to work or pivot their career, or set up a business online.

Prof Rachid Hourizi, director of the Institute of Coding, said: “It is clear that one of the many impacts of the pandemic has been an increase in the number of people re-evaluating their job, career path and next steps.

“Through collaboration with our consortium of leading UK universities and employers, we’re creating digital skills courses like this that will help a larger and more diverse group of people reach their goals through lifelong learning.”

Prof Sue Black, professor of computer science at Durham University and TechUP Lead added: “Education and technology transformed my life, enabling a successful career and being the vehicle that brought my family out of poverty.

"In this programme we have specifically chosen topics, from the basics through to some advanced areas, which will contribute towards learners’ understanding of the opportunities available to support their path towards tech success.

"Whether you want to get back into education or work, or set up your own business, we've created a step-by-step course to help you get there. Technology is the future, make sure you are part of it”.

Your Digital Pathway is open for registrations until 29 June 2022 at https://bit.ly/yourdigitalpathway.

Top 20 digital skills Brits don't feel confident in doing

1.            Creating a website

2.            Creating a blog

3.            Creating formulas in a spreadsheet

4.            Creating a presentation using Microsoft Office or Google Docs

5.            Using LinkedIn

6.            Turning on / off track changes in Microsoft Office or Google docs

7.            Applying for jobs via a social media platform

8.            Creating a download link for pictures and videos

9.            Backing up files on the Cloud

10.          Sharing your screen during a video call through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or similar

11.          Setting up a video call through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or similar

12.          Creating email signatures

13.          Laying out a CV using software such as Microsoft Office or Google Docs

14.          Uploading/ editing a document online using Microsoft Office or Google Docs

15.          Entering data into a spreadsheet

16.          Using different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

17.          Updating hardware or software versions on your computer or other device

18.          Installing a printer on your computer or other device

19.          Setting up an out of office email message

20.          Uploading your CV online