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IT workers' self-confidence hampering portfolio career ambitions

Research suggests imposter syndrome is holding back around half of IT professionals from realising their multi-faceted dream careers

More than half of English IT workers report being interested in pursuing a career comprised of many different jobs at the same time, but lack the confidence to commit.

The majority of IT workers (59%) said they would be interested in developing a portfolio career - a higher percentage than the average adult (52%) - but imposter syndrome stands in the way of nearly half (47%), according to new research.

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A portfolio career can involve a single person working two or more roles concurrently. The research comes as the UK government launched a campaign to encourage professionals to pursue part-time careers in further education (FE).

“I became a part-time further education teacher three years ago year alongside running my own IT business,” said Christian Núñez Fuentes, teacher of IT and digital subjects at Bedford College. 

“I was nervous about what I could bring to the lessons, so lacked self-confidence. But I quickly realised it was my skills and knowledge from a career in the IT industry that made me most valuable to my students and colleagues. 

“This grew my confidence over time as I could share what I had learnt over many years to inspire a new generation of students. It helped me grow as a teacher and I completed my training on the job, so I was able to start earning straight away. The benefits really outweighed my self-doubt.”

According to the Department for Education (DfE), 57% of all adults in England suffer from imposter syndrome - a feeling that one’s success is neither deserved nor the product of one’s talents or skills.

High-skilled professionals working in engineering, construction, accountancy, digital, and healthcare are all being targeted specifically by the campaign.

The DfE aims to highlight that neither a degree nor any teaching experience is required to get started in the world of FE and many people working in these industries are already qualified enough to begin just with their working experience alone.

The value of industry professionals is believed to be great since they are able to provide students with hands-on, practical knowledge that’s wrapped in the context of real-world application.

While teaching alone may not be the route to the highest-paying jobs in the tech industry, some individuals may find more fulfilment working multiple roles while also supplementing their main salary with money earned from part-time or ad-hoc work.

How the tech sector's industry-wide mass layoffs will impact the confidence of individuals to pursue work outside of their main job remains to be seen, the value of adopting a flexible approach to keep a company's top talent happy has traditionally been appreciated. Retaining the most skilled people may involve offering workers greater freedoms in and outside of the workplace.

‘Side hustle culture’ is rife among the younger generations but research has also found that those in the 35-44 age bracket are most likely to quit their jobs in search of more flexible arrangements - be it in working hours or allowance to pursue outside endeavours.

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