A government minister has told Sky News that families can “protect themselves” from the cost of living crisis by working longer or finding a new job.
One in 20 UK households will soon be unable to pay their food and energy bills as global shortages and war in Ukraine continue to drive up fuel and transport prices.
But the backup Minister Rachel Maclean says while the government is focusing on ‘longer term’ economic measures to ease the crisis, Britons can ‘take more hours or move into a better paying job’ to help in the short term.
Opposition MPs accused the government of being “out of touch with the realities of people’s lives” and that its job “is not just to tell people to work harder, longer and go get a promotion”.
So can our jobs really help us through the cost of living crisis? Here, Sky News talks to career and employment experts about career choices people can make to help cope with spiraling costs.
Ask for a raise
With lifetime jobs largely a thing of the past, employees are often looking for new opportunities with better pay, conditions and benefits.
Jenny Garrett, career coach and leadership development consultant, says that while small businesses also struggle with costs, larger companies are more likely to raise your salary than risk looking for work elsewhere.
“There is a war on talent, with employers trying to retain the right people and avoid the ‘big quit’,” she told Sky News.
“If you’re in an organization that’s doing well financially, you’ll be in a good position to ask for a raise.”
Jill Cotton, Career Trends Expert at Glassdoor, adds that it will be helpful to research what other companies are paying for similar roles and time your application after a successful project or deal is completed.
She says, “When businesses are also feeling the stress of rising costs, you also need to be clear about the value you bring to the business.”
Working longer hours on fewer days could free up an extra day or two for a second job, adds Ms Garrett.
“If you can or want to work more hours to earn more money, you can ask your employer to cut five working days into four and on the fifth day get another role,” she says.
“More and more people are doing it and more and more organizations are open to it.
“But if you already feel like you’re about to burn out and you have other responsibilities, you might not be able to do it.”
Katie Schmuecker, senior policy adviser at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation social think tank, told Sky News that for ‘far too many the only jobs available to them are precarious, with no guarantees of sufficient hours or long work term”.
She also says overtime or freelance job offers often come too late for parents or guardians to arrange coverage.
Other jobs within your company may pay better than the one you currently hold.
“Networking within your organization is a good idea to see what other roles you could move into,” says Ms Garrett, who transitioned into career coaching while working in marketing 16 years ago.
“If you work for a big company or a big company, look for positions that have better career trajectories.
“Being an internal candidate means people already know you and can trust your file – so it’s a good thing to look into.”
Other sources of income
The gig economy has changed the way people work, with paid jobs like Uber and delivery drivers allowing them to supplement their income in their spare time.
From writing, proofreading and tutoring to knitting and carpentry, Ms. Garrett points out that “second jobs” don’t have to be nine-to-five.
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“If there’s something you like or are told you have a talent for, it could become an extra activity,” she says.
Online platforms such as Etsy and Not on the High Street are good ways to sell handmade goods, while independent marketplaces such as Fiverr and People Per Hour can earn you money by offering digital services and online content creation.
If “secondary agitation” means you work more than 48 hours a week, you will need to tell your main employer, Ms Cotton adds.
Is your work “future proof”?
After COVID, “job vacancies in the UK are currently at an all-time high”, according to Glassdoor expert Ms Cotton.
“Employers are increasingly looking to hire outside of the normal talent pool. So if you’re looking to change industries, now is the time to update your resume and start applying for jobs,” says -she.
But if you’re ready to change careers for better long-term pay, it’s just as important to make sure it’s sustainable, adds Ms Garrett.
“There’s a cap on some roles, so you’ll never earn that much. It’s important to know what the maximum salary is in your industry and whether it will still be in demand 10 years from now.”
She suggests technology, finance, retail, education, and healthcare for those worried about job security and in a position to consider a career change.
Training loans or grants
Although changing careers will likely mean sacrificing your income until you requalify, some industries will pay for your course or allow you to learn on the job.
Alternatively, some industries guarantee you a role at the end of your training to minimize the time you spend out of work.
Ms Garrett says IT and cybersecurity jobs are among the most likely to secure jobs and pay for training.
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Public sector jobs with shortages such as math, science teachers and social workers also offer training grants.
The government has advanced learning loans for adults studying at tertiary level and loan grant funds to help cover travel, accommodation and childcare costs for people with family responsibilities.
“Interest rates on government student loans are usually very low and you don’t start paying them back until you earn enough,” says Garrett.
An apprenticeship allows you to “try before you buy” when considering a new career, says Ms Garrett.
Although they are becoming increasingly popular, they may be a poor choice in the current climate as they are not very well paid, she warns.
Online or distance learning courses allow people to retrain around their current working hours.
But Ms Garrett warns that with working from home now a permanent feature of many jobs after the pandemic, some people may struggle to do both.
“I think it’s difficult for people at the moment because with the pandemic a lot of work has moved online, so having to study online in the evenings too… there’s a limit to what people can take,” she said.