How Covid-19 has changed career paths

September 2021

Helen Brand explains how the pandemic has affected many people’s career choices – and hears some personal stories from new ACCA studiers.

Almost two years on and, globally, we’re all still reeling from the effects of Covid-19. But while we try to navigate our way out of this pandemic crisis, ACCA would like to bring inspiration to PQ readers by profiling just some of our students who decided to embark on their ACCA journey as a result of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 crisis has made many rethink career aspirations and our futures. It has transformed the world of work, shaking up how we run businesses and organisations in ways that mean the role of accountants is wider and more important than ever before.

And it’s highlighted how this profession offers a secure and flexible career whatever your age.

For the upcoming Generation Z, developing strategic accountancy skills offers a great launchpad. It offers the opportunity to learn valuable skills and progress rapidly, to be paid well and enjoy greater security of employment.

It offers a good work-life balance, with varied and meaningful work for organisations with purpose and values. And it also provides the opportunity to contribute towards a better, fairer, more sustainable future for everyone.

I’ve been inspired by the stories of these students and earlier this month, ACCA took part in a radio broadcast campaign day where we discussed the effects of Covid-19 on young people’s career journeys. But it was also an opportunity to shine a light on accountancy.

Our research reveals the pandemic proved to be a time of ‘career contemplation’ for many young people across the country. With many being placed on furlough, those aged 16–24 years old were pushed into reassessing their career paths and to take up new qualifications helping them to find their feet within entirely new sectors.

In the UK, there are about six million 16-24- year olds, and for our campaign we polled 1,000 of them to understand their aspirations better. Before the pandemic, 21% of them wanted to pursue a professional career, which included accountancy, but that has now increased to 30%.

Our poll also shows 40% of respondents said financial security is very important to them when looking at their career options and selecting their path. They believe professional qualifications help increase chances of a job and being financially secure.

This campaign confirms that it’s not just those starting out in their careers who have been looking to change their jobs.

Cristina Oprea, London

Cristina, 24, was a nursery chef from South London who, before the pandemic hit, didn’t feel as though she was realising her full potential. She had always known she wanted to continue her studies but didn’t know where and how to start. And after being furloughed in Spring 2020, and with much time to reflect, she gravitated towards either a law degree or accountancy. In the end, she opted to study accountancy with ACCA and in Cristina’s words she’s ‘truly happy and proud’ with her career choice in the last year.

Cristina now has started work as an accounts assistant for a care home company and has recently purchased her first property, too.

Craig Maclean, Glasgow

Craig, 37, was a baker with high street chain Greggs for almost 20 years until he decided he wanted a complete 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.

Gaurav Kumar, Manchester

Before the pandemic, Gaurav, 37, worked in the hospitality sector in Manchester. He worked in the hotel industry looking after serviced apartments that were forced to close during the crisis. Gaurav had always loved working with numbers and when he was furloughed, enrolled with ACCA. He now has started a new job at Barclays while he continues his studies.

These are just some of the inspirational stories I have been touched by and I look forward to seeing how these ACCA recruits and all those who have recently joined us continue on their journeys.

If you would like to share a similar story with us at ACCA, then do get in touch with our press team

We love to hear from our ACCA students and in times like these it’s always good to share inspirational stories.

• Helen Brand is ACCA’s Chief Executive