A new poll commissioned by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) suggests the Covid-19 pandemic has proved to be a time of career contemplation and change for young people.

There are around six million 16 – 24 year olds in the UK, and ACCA polled over 1,000 to better understand their views about jobs. While before the pandemic 21% wanted to pursue a professional career like accountancy, that figure has now increased to 30%.

Being on furlough has offered a lot of people already in work the chance to reassess and aim to take new qualifications to target a new job.

40% of those surveyed said financial security is most important to them in their job and that traditional career paths with qualifications helped increase the chances of that job and financial security. There was a fifty-fifty split on the numbers of people aiming to go to university and those who said it wasn’t for them. The numbers of people wanting to go into apprenticeships – or aiming to work and study at the same time – now matches the number of people wanting a place at university.

Lloyd Powell, Head of ACCA Cymru Wales, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has made many rethink career aspirations and their futures. This research, alongside a global survey we did earlier this year into Gen Z and their careers, shows how the pandemic has transformed aspirations about the world of work, while also shaking up how employers run businesses and organisations. The role of accountants is wider and more important than ever before, offering a secure and flexible career whatever your age.

“For Gen Z, developing strategic accountancy skills offers a great launchpad into a career, with benefits our research shows that they crave – such as the opportunity to learn valuable skills and progress rapidly; to be paid well and enjoy greater security of employment; to enjoy a good work-life balance; with varied and meaningful work for organisations with purpose and values, and also the opportunity to make a contribution towards a better, fairer, more sustainable future for all.”

ACCA has three case studies of people who have been inspired to recently pursue a career as finance professional, making the change during and before the pandemic:

  • 24-year-old Cristina Oprea from Greenwich in SE London was a chef in a nursery before being furloughed in Spring 2020. With some time to plan her future afresh, Cristina opted to study an accounting degree with the ACCA. Cristina now works as an Accounts Assistant for a care company while continuing her studies. She has now purchased her first property before the age of 25.
  • 37-year-old Gaurav Kumar from Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester worked in the hotel industry looking after serviced apartments that were forced to close by the pandemic. While furloughed, he enrolled with the ACCA. He’d always loved working with numbers and has now started a new job at Barclays while he continues his studies.
  • 37-year-old Craig Maclean from Cambuslang, on the edge of Glasgow, was a baker with Greggs for nearly 20 years. Wanting a career change, he’s now switched to studying at the University of the West of Scotland for an ACCA accredited degree. He’s also working at the university as a Finance Administrator.

Lloyd Powell concludes: “The pandemic has initiated a change in career outlook, and we also see this being played out on our global jobs board, ACCA Careers, which has recently seen a 43% year on year global uptick on usage. This shows a level of demand not seen before, and which we believe will continue.”