It’s never too late to ‘peake’ in a new career

7 April 2016

Secretary-turned author J.K. Rowling, has topped a Learning and Work Institute poll to identify the most inspiring living Britons; followed closely by our man on the International Space Station, Tim Peake. The list, which was dominated by people who have famously made big career changes also includes Victoria Pendleton, who has hit her stride after swapping her bicycle for a racehorse, in third place.


Victoria was followed by fellow ex-Olympian, Eddie the Eagle (whose unrelenting spirit is back in the spotlight thanks to a major Hollywood film) in fourth. In joint fifth place were chef-turned-political campaigner Jamie Oliver and serial entrepreneur and businesswoman, Karen Brady, whose influence spans from the boardroom to the football pitch.


The poll looking into Briton’s inspirations and ambitions was carried out to launch the 2016 Festival of Learning – an initiative from Learning & Work Institute to get Britons to take part in learning. The campaign, which is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), encourages and celebrates lifelong learning and the impact it can have on personal and professional development.


Stephen Evans, Deputy Chief Executive from Learning and Work Institute, commented on the results, “Learning has never been more important for life, work and health. It can help to build a new career, break with routine and meet new people, and inspire new interests. It’s great that so many people polled are inspired to learn to try new things or work toward their dream job. But we also know that too many people miss out on the life changing opportunities that learning brings.


The Festival of Learning is all about making sure everyone gets the opportunity to learn. That’s why we’re calling on any institution, business, individual or organisation that offers adults a chance to experience something new to list their event, course or workshop at Learning isn’t just something that happens in a classroom, and it shouldn’t stop when you leave school.”


From 22nd March until 20th May nominations will also be open for the 2016 Festival of Learning Awards open to adult learners, employers, projects and tutors. Shortlisted entrants will be announced at the start of August.


Don’t Stop Believing

Of the 2,000 adults interviewed, 36% said that watching high-profile Brits succeed in new careers had spurred them on to go and try their hand at something they’ve never done before but always wanted to. British adults still hold on to childhood ambitions, with 76% of them not giving up on doing their dream job. Almost a quarter (24%) have switched careers and 29% have recently taken part in learning.


The top childhood dream careers voted for by Britons were:

1. Musician

2. Teacher

3= Astronaut

3= Pilot

5. Actor

6. Doctor

7. Lawyer

8.  Prime Minister

9.  Chef

10. Sports (various)


However 67% of Britons polled feel they lack the skills or qualifications to achieve their career goals; it’s a statistic being tackled by Ambition London – a programme from Learning And Work Institute which is supporting employers and individuals to meet their skills needs, making use of Advanced Learner Loans to support their learning.



The Festival of Learning is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) to help publicise ESF activities and outputs. The ESF is a European Union initiative that supports activities to improve employment opportunities, promote social inclusion and invest in skills. The ESF is investing over £2.5 billion in England in the 2014-2020 programme. Funding will be used to


help young people, jobseekers and inactive people access employment;

tackle barriers to work faced by disadvantaged people; and

invest in education, skills and lifelong learning.


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