I'm 54, broke, no career - what should I do?

I'm 54, less than broke, been out of work for 10+ years. Following on from a top grade in Level 3 BTEC in IT at college, I'm doing an OU degree in Computing And IT but I feel it's teaching me skills that are too general and basic to get me a job. I've been applying for admin jobs but absolutely no-one wants to employ me as I have no recent work history and no real skills apart from MS Offcie and everyone has that. I still apply for jobs but in all honesty they are just token job applications to keep the dole office happy.

I'm doing very well in my academic studies so I think I could cope with an AAT course but where to start and how the stuff do I fund it if I'm stuck on the dole? My OU debt increases by the module but I don't have to pay off that until I get a 21k a year job and there's no chance of that ever happening.

I despair. Advice, please...?


  • burg
    burg Registered, Moderator Posts: 1,441 mod

    I have no experience of your situation as I've always been in employment. I have however changed careers and it is not easy. It took me around 7 months of searching and inerviews before someone would take a chance on me.
    For me it has worked out but you will see from posts on these forums that there are many who study AAT and have no job or prospect of a job.
    It is an industry where experience is as much if not on some ocasions more important than the qualification. If you don't have the experience then you could just end up like many others and be a qualified accountant with no job.

    My advice would be to look at jobs that are advertised. Is there a common theme i.e. an area that you can see there is a shortage of candidates in. Then decide which may suit you and aim for those roles. Maybe even contact the employer and ask about entering the profession. They may even be willing to offer training contracts.

  • paulstafford
    paulstafford Registered Posts: 126 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    It is one of those frustrating realities that it is easier to be offered a job when you already have one.

    I agree with Burg that studying for a AAT qualification would not be the best move for you right now. Traditionally firms of accountants employ school leavers and recent graduates to their training posts as they are seen as future managers/partners. You will be close to 60 by the time you qualify.

    Have you considered self employment?

  • TreadStone
    TreadStone Registered Posts: 280 Epic contributor 🐘
    edited February 2017
    Maybe look at some type of bookkeeping course/qualification ?

    To complete the courses/qualifications won't take as long and you could look to do this whether employed or self-employed.

    Unfortunately, age and lack of experience is against you but with the impending onslaught of HMRC's digital future, bookkeeping may be a viable option for you.

    That's assuming this area is of interest.

    Good luck.
  • Bertie
    Bertie Registered Posts: 376
    Tricky - age isn't important, yet in reality it is.

    For a successful career change the mean is usually 30 - 40.

    Luck as per plays a massive part.

    I'd happily employ someone more mature in age, you are able to bring experiences to the table that the majority of 'youth' have not experienced.

    What you can do depends upon how much passion you have for this profession, you 'could' begin as a bookkeeper, followed by moving slowly towards self assessments.

    Bookkeeping and accountancy for small businesses isn't rocket science. But it is a never ending learning curve, especially taxation.

    What are your motives? What are your drivers?
  • Helen269
    Helen269 Registered Posts: 4
    Thank you all for your kind words and advice, it really means a lot to me.

    Yes, my age goes against me and I wish someone had suggested this route to me years ago but there we are.

    To clarify, I have no ambition to become an accountant so I wouldn't want to take it that far. The thing is, I keep seeing ads on indeed.co.uk for finance departmenmt personnel of various types and I was wondering how I would go about qualifying for those minor roles. I wrote to my local branch of the Reed agency for advice but they didn't bother replying. Thanks a bunch, guys.

    Today on indeed I see ads for:
    Ledger Clerk
    Bookkeeper / Accounts Technician
    Finance Administrator
    Accounts Assistant / Administrator
    Purchase Ledger clerk

    and I was wondering how to get into that line of work. I have, so far, been pursuiing Administrator and Administration Assistant jobs with no success. I stuck at the data entry job for the full time I was required but it was so depressing and mind-numbingly boring but I didn't say anything to that effect to the client or the agency.

    Anyway, it looks like my best option is to not worry about finance jobs no matter how low down in the pecking order and just keep going after those admin posts. Persistance pays, after all. :-)
  • Neillaw
    Neillaw Registered Posts: 307 Dedicated contributor 🦉
    I agree with Treadstone, it may be better looking at book-keeping as you've mentioned you don't want to become an accountant.

    If your still on the dole it may be worth looking at the NEA scheme which are run by your local chamber of commerce. You would need a referral from the Job Centre but if accepted you receive a grant for a couple of months. Also if your looking at self-employment then if you work up to 16 hours you can still sign on but would have to tell the JC how much you'd earned as this is taken from your allowance but they still have to leave you with a fiver!

    Good luck
  • Helen269
    Helen269 Registered Posts: 4
    Thanks, Neillaw :-)
    I've just this second got confirmation that I'm booked on a Sage For Beginners course run by Realise Futures and arranged for me by the Job Centyre at my request so who knows, this may lead somewhere...

    Wish me luck, folks! :-)
  • TreadStone
    TreadStone Registered Posts: 280 Epic contributor 🐘
    Many journeys begin with small steps. Maybe this is the first step on your journey.

    Follow this up with some knowledge of Sage One (cloud based) and you may possess a skill some smaller businesses require.

    All the best.
  • Helen269
    Helen269 Registered Posts: 4
    Will do, thanks! :-)
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