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Retraining at a (slightly) older age.

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BearTricks

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Evening everyone.

I tried to type something lengthy but my phone isn't having it so I'll try to keep it brief.

Realistically what are my options for retraining in a trade in my early 30s? I'm currently a Civil Servant and while the pay and pension are fine (but far from the massive renumerations for sitting round doing nothing that people think) I don't think I can sit in front of a computer and deal with the hoops, bureaucracy and people with an inflated opinion of themselves for the next 40 years.

I'm currently spending most of my time when I'm not working doing what small amount of woodworking and leatherworking I can in the space I have. We're buying a new house next year so after that I'm thinking of taking an evening course and retraining. Joiner would be my preferred option but I'd be open to anything that's in demand.

I'm fully aware how lucky I am to have a stable wage especially at the moment so don't think I'm taking that for granted. I also have some insight in to employment and training as part of my job and know that options aren't great if you're not young and cheap enough for it to be worth hiring. Is there a reliable route in to employment or self-employment from taking evening classes?

If the answer is no then that's understandable, but I'd appreciate any insight. Feel free to hurl abuse at the naive uni graduate while you're at it.
 
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BearTricks

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Bumping the thread since I finally got it to post (if we're allowed to do that).

Also happy to open it up to discussion on trades vs office jobs and the education required.
 

Terry - Somerset

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If you are buying a new house, is this really a good time to put your income at risk.

Sadly with unemployment likely to increase over the next year due to Covid, the competition for training and jobs will be difficult.

On a more positive note, I am very aware that it is all too easy to put off these changes.

I spent the first 20 years in the private sector, and the last in the public sector. Every time I considered a career change in my 30s and 40s there were always good reasons not to take the risk - mortgage. kids, etc.

So before doing anything you should plan not to move house with all the extra costs that probably entails. If the career change truly works out you can always change the plan!
 

billw

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I lasted two months as a consultant in the public sector before the weight of watching my tax money subsidise people sitting around doing nothing broke my spirit.

The simple answer to this is to consider whether the sums work out. If they don’t, are there lifestyle changes you could realistically make and commit to that change the answer? If no, risk > reward likely rules.

Stable wages are going to be a thing of the past soon, but so is the concept of tying yourself to one employer, to a great degree. The civil service might the only route to stability.
 

Blackswanwood

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Being in your early thirties is not a barrier to retraining but as Terry has indicated it probably involves some lifestyle choices.

Many big employers are open to flexible working arrangements that may enable you to spend time retraining. I know someone who worked in financial services and wanted to become a gas fitter. They changed their hours from a 35 to 32 hour week with Fridays off so they could do a course that was one day in college (Friday) and a mixture of online and evening classes. He now services boilers for a living. That may be an extreme example that involved a forward thinking and enlightened employer but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

Without downplaying the practical considerations if you don’t feel fulfilled and happy in the Civil Service do something about it - work takes up too much of our lives to allow it to be a chore.

I’m sure someone with more knowledge of the qualifications and routes to getting them will be along with some more practical advice!
 

Sandyn

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I think this is a modern disease. I have had about 20 contract jobs and 4 permanent jobs where I was pretty happy, some where I couldn't wait to get back to work on a Monday...sad really! 1 of the permanent job I really disliked the people I worked with, probably got to the point of almost hating people, which is totally out of character for me, but some places have a toxic atmosphere which seeps into your soul and can cast a dark shadow over your whole life. Working with arrogant disrespectful people, people who try to bully you by using their position to get their own way.
Often, it's not the job, it's the people. That still doesn't make anything easier for you, but you aren't alone. It's not you, it's the work environment these days.
I would say, YES! you can find a new career from part time education, but you have to plan the timescale and not jump ship too early.
You can learn at any age. I did my Masters degree when I was in my 50's. Nowadays there isn't the same age structure in jobs, but if you are starting from the bottom in a job, you will take a salary and pension hit.
You are in a stable job, which is really valuable in these very uncertain times. Is moving departments an option, or have you decided you want to have a complete change? Have you considered looking for contract position using your skill base? the mind set is completely different when you are not 'employed' and earning a lot more. You don't get involved in office politics, but these days, I think it's more difficult to find contract work.
As others have suggested, look at the possibility of working shorter hours, perhaps a 4 day week, then dedicate the other days to acquiring a new skill, but I have no idea about which one provides the best route to self employment and it might be a case of the grass is greener on the other side and you will replace one set of problems for another? I would hold on to your current job for as long as possible, but perhaps start selling things as a side business. Leather working and woodwork has scope for producing items you can sell on the internet. Look around local craft shops and see what sells, then start producing in your spare time. Just try it. Don't sit and wonder, try. If it fails, try something else, but chase your dream. What it will give you is sight of a possible way out of where you are. Don't give up your job until you have certainty of being able to survive on your new skill. You don't say if you are married/have kids or plan to, so think carefully of the financial aspects. It won't be easy, but that will test your motivation. Good luck with whatever you choose!!
 

Glitch

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After 44 years of office work I'm now 18 months into retirement able to pursue stuff I want to do.
I found myself saying 'I wish I'd pursued a trade' because I enjoy my hobbies more than my job. I'm frustrated because I don't have the skill levels I want.
Listening to mates who have trade skills but no pension, fluctuating income, no savings, prospect of having to work beyond normal retirement date brings me back to Earth.
When I was 21 I gave up well paid work thinking I could make a living doing up cars - that lasted a couple of months. Turning a hobby into a job brings new pressures and it may lose its appeal. It takes years to become truly skilled.

Do you really want a career change, or do you just want a better work/life balance? Would you be happy spending all your time trying to make a living with your new skills?

The financial risks are high, especially in the current climate. Can your partner pays the bills and support you through your training and getting your new career off the ground?

Blackswanwood and Sandyn offered sensible advice - think about cutting your Civil Service work hours to fit in the retraining? Do they offer the opportunity for a sabbatical so you can take a full time break to retrain with a chance to return after 6 months or a year?

I admire people who chuck in the 9-5 life to pursue their dreams. It is certainly possible but it comes with risks. Weigh up the risks carefully before you take the leap.
 
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Ollie78

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If you are in your 30s that is still young enough to have time to get good at it.
Ideally you should try and "train" whilst still employed so you don't have to leap into the unknown so much.
Make no mistake you will likely be poorer, at least for a while. Try to get something going part time first maybe.

Personally, I know I could make more money doing something else but I would be 100% more grumpy about it. I have no pension and will have to work till I am dead but its probably too late to care at this point.

Happiness is more important than money.

Ollie
 

Keith 66

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I spent my working life as a boatbuilder, a trade that is immensely safisfying but notoriously ill paid, most of the self emloyed blokes like me that managed to stay in it for the long term had a good woman next to them in a steady public sector job! Teachers, environmental health officers, other council employees etc.
Self employment is great when the work is rolling in but all too often there will be gaps & then its catch up time, usually when "the man" has his hand out for money. Workshop landlord, Accountant, taxman, insurance, all come first in the queue to be paid. The boss? is usually last!
If you can figure out a niche market all well & good but you have to be lucky to find something that hasnt been done before.
In my case a legacy has meant i have a pension & i thank my lucky stars to be in this position.
 

pe2dave

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Rather than (re) training, how about looking round for a 'master craftsman' to take you on as apprentice?
Yes, you'd need a.n.other financial input to the house, but (IMHO) you'd learn more than from a college course?

Finding one could be hard.
Finding a good one (that you can work with) even harder.

Could provide the rewards you are looking for though? Upside for the master craftsman, he/she gets an adult
instead of a teenager who doesn't really want to be there?

Just a thought.
 

Cabinetman

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My thoughts for what they’re worth, train in your new workshop after you move house, perhaps a Night course ( if they still exist ). Start working weekends – a shelf to fit an awkward space type of work, it pays a whole lot better than making things and trying to sell them. After a year or two? When the work is coming in by reputation and piling up then is the time to give up your main job. But just remember you pay for your own pension and when you go on holiday there’s nothing coming in! Ian Good luck.
 

Spectric

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Hi

I know what you mean about life in an office where people will trample others just to climb an extra rung and luckily for me as an engineer you reach a point where all options up meant leaving engineering behind and becoming management so I did what I liked rather than "progress". In these times of economic uncertaintity it may be wise to put up with your regular income job but take a good look at your finances with an aim to put yourself in a better position for when you do make the jump. Simple things if you can are start paying a little more off your mortgage so you get ahead and reduce the term and clear any debt.

In the meantime spend more time doing some woodwork and think if taking on a self employed manual job is actually better than your regular income job where you always know you will be paid and not spend time chasing others just to get paid.

I think another big problem these days is that good carpenters struggle, people seem to want everything based on cost and not quality so you may end up making items that you personally are not happy with. Some turn to site work where quality is a banned word and speed is everything, I know a furniture maker who now works for Tesco's in management because the money is better and the hours known so think long and hard before chasing a dream and leaving security behind, you are still young and there is plenty of time to make big changes later when you can swallow the risk more easily.
 

pe2dave

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I think another big problem these days is that good carpenters struggle, people seem to want everything based on cost and not quality so you may end up making items that you personally are not happy with. Some turn to site work where quality is a banned word and speed is everything, I know a furniture maker who now works for Tesco's in management because the money is better and the hours known so think long and hard before chasing a dream and leaving security behind, you are still young and there is plenty of time to make big changes later when you can swallow the risk more easily.
+1
No is a good answer to such 'price' requests.
 

heimlaga

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There is lots of wisdom in this thread.

Theese days there isn't much money to be made as a joiner. Most startups go bankrupt.
Bigger firms are either forced to get even bigger while automating everything so it can be run by the cheapest unqualified workers or to downscale to one man or two man businesses making a decent living based on workshops and machinery already paid for during better times in the past.

There are certain specialities where one can still get a decent hourly pay for your work but this means you must have contacts so you can get those jobs and you must have a way of fitting out the workshop without loans nor landlords so you can afford to say NO to jobs that are paid below your production costs and then just turn down the heat and turn off the light and close the workshop door and do something else for a while until the next better paying customer turns up.
 

clogs

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Bear Tricks.....
keep the job ur in, get some training in then offer ur services around.....local jobs, gates, shed repairs and a host of other small stuff to get ur confidence up as well as skill levels......
quite often it's good to make something for urself so u can say this is what I do......
then when ur inundated with work u can play the system for a while then jump.....
u dont say what tools / machines u have and or a place to work......
another thing, u'll spend a lot of time running around collecting materials etc.....have u got something to carry 8x4 sheets and big lumps of wood...often bought in 4m lengths......
do some private jobs to get a feel for it.....
getting full time training will bring heartache to ur wallet.....so unless she can bring in enough money to live on forget it.....
a couple of big bills for the house and then the cars could easily wipe u out......
sorry mate, make the best of what ya got and just do the smaller jobs.....
I'm 72, been s/empl all my life and still putting in 6 good days a week.....
it's tough out there in the real world.......sorry
 

xraymtb

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I totally get the office thing but don't kid yourself into thinking that behaviour doesn't exist in every business. No matter where you go, there will always be people willing to climb over you to get to the top.

I've considered the same as you many times - leaving a reasonably well paying job as a Project Manager to do something with my hands but the reality is you may find its not as enjoyable as a couple of hours on an evening making the things you really want to at a pace that suits. You could end up spending days running 8x4 sheets through a panel saw, dealing with demanding clients (who would make the office bullies look like reasonable individuals), chasing people to pay for the work you have done. I've got a few friends that quit jobs to pursue similar work - they are all now either unemployed or have given up and gone back to where they came from (having lost out in the meantime to those who stayed).

I don't want to sound really negative but be sure you know what you are getting into and what you are giving up before you jump. I work where I do to provide for my family and spend my free time doing what I enjoy without worry. That's not something I would give up easily.
 

jcassidy

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Speaking as someone who hadn't had a stable job in 25 years, when I got a mortgage 2 years ago, and with BREXIT coming at us like an economic wrecking ball, I fled to the stability of a public sector job (with a 40% cut in take-home pay). Yes, the pay cut, the know-it-alls, the back-stabbing, the worker-drones-contributing-zero, are all a total pain. But the steady recession-proof, BREXIT-proof, and COVID-proof salary pays the bills, keeps food on the table, and a roof over our heads.

So I'd think twice about packing in that tedious public sector job, and then think twice again, and if I still wanted to pack it in, I'd go get therapy. 'Cos you're not thinking straight. Maybe post BREXIT when the UK economy is growing strong and loads of people have cash to splash. But now?

Like Glitch above, I know lots of people with massive trade skills or IT skills who raked in the money in the good times, and are now suffering badly and expect to be working in their 'retirement' to supplement the public pension. The only one I know who is relaxed about it, has two houses bought (from a previous time when he was in a high-earning job), and an understanding & patient wife who is in a high-paying job.

Transfer to another office, cut your hours, work from home sometimes - the good thing about the civil service / public sector is the flexibilty.
 

thetyreman

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I disagree completely with others about staying in your job, you need to at least try first and see where it takes you, there's no way you'll ever do it without hard work and a positive mindset, regardless of the economy, which will always have ups and downs.
 

jcassidy

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OK, after mature consideration...
Save up enough to support you and your family for 6 months, take a sabbatical, and go for it. If it works out, tell the boss to get stuffed. If not, you haven't lost anything for giving it a lash.
 
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