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Steeple Aston

9-2-3 is a recruitment agency that specialises in placing high quality candidates into jobs with hours that fit in around the school run.



Case studies and thoughts on flexible working today.


Filtering by Tag: #worklifebalance

Why up-skilling helps boost confidence and gives you a competitive edge!

Helen Wright


How to future-proof your career following a career break

Returning to work after a career break can be daunting to say the least. With the rate of change in technology faster than ever before, it can leave you feeling out of touch and struggling to know where or how to get up to speed.

The good thing to say is there has never been a better time to upskill! With 67% of women interested in retraining according to the Working Mums 2018 Annual Survey, it’s no surprise there is a growing number of course providers to suit all needs.

Make training your friend. It is time to reframe how you think about training courses. Trust us, courses these days can give you so much more that just the curriculum. Think new career paths, networks, friendships or even a job at the end of it. Imagine that!

Before diving into the first course you see, here are some points to consider:

You’ll get a boost of confidence, not just new skills

There is so much to get out of upskilling, it goes way beyond giving the practical skills, it can build you up in so many ways. It can awaken a new sense of purpose, grow your network, ignite friendships and bring you closer to your goals. You might just surprise yourself where your training will take you!

At TechPixies, the women who take our courses, say that they don’t just gain a new digital skillset, but also a huge boost of confidence, giving them the freedom to pursue their goals. Our ‘Where Are They Now’ blog series has some truly inspiring stories about how training with our programme was the launchpad to a whole host of achievements.  You just never know!

Gain a competitive edge by demonstrating your willingness to upskill

In many ways, the advantage of returning to work following a career break is that it is almost necessary to upskill, but really you should be continuing to upskill throughout your career, not just following a career break.

The world of work is more changeable than everbefore, upskilling should be constant, you’ll become a pro at this as you’ve made a start at an important time in your career. Taking the time to train will demonstrate to an employer or potential investor in your business, that you have taken a proactive step to stay current.

Be fair to yourself and take your time so you find the right course for you

Do your research and don’t rush in. Ask yourself what is the main reason for needing to retrain, is it necessary at that time or are you just rushing in because you feel out of touch?

Take a good look at job descriptions for the roles you are interested in or the business sector you want to enter. List out the the skills and key duties required and compare them with what you can currently offer and what you think you are missing.

Be fair on yourself though, there are so many skills that are transferable. It’s also really important to get out and speak to people who are in the know. Not only will you get a better sense of the skills needed, making contact with people might just open other doors! By the very fact you are speaking to someone else about your objectives to upskill, helps to set goals and will make it feel real.

Don’t follow the crowds, follow your path!

Stay in control of the myriad of courses. Don’t just follow the crowd, tailor your training to your own career path.  With a growing number of course providers, there is no longer a one size fits all approach. You can afford to be choosey.

Sounds obvious, but do make sure you train up in a skill that will suit you and ultimately fulfill you. Don’t just do it to suit what everyone else wants you to do, you’ll only find that it wasn’t the right path for you.

Make learning convenient as you are more likely to complete it if you do

What format works best for you? Don’t feel you have to plump for one particular style of learning, there are so many options out there. Think about your commitments and how much time you will actually be able to give to studying and completion of assignments.

Consider whether you want to train with other people in a face to face environment or virtual through an online platform. It can be really good to meet in person and have a routine to your learning, but consider whether this is necessary and what you will actually achieve from it.

At TechPixies, we know that our face to face course really suits those who are keen to meet other like-minded women and need the accountability of face to face interaction. We run our group courses between 10am-2pm so it is easy to make the school run.

Especially for those still on a career break, getting out of the house and doing something for themselves an be uplifting. It can give a sense of purpose, make them feel they are physically making the right steps to getting back into the workplace - while having a good natter with their new like-minded girlfriends at the same time.

Alternatively, if you prefer to learn on your own or have a limited time availability to learn in a group environment, online courses can offer you a quick, convenient way to learn and you can still learn in a group virtually. You can still benefit from a network with many course providers offering private Facebook groups.

Here at TechPixies all current and alumni students become members of our private Facebook group. It has established a unique bond of support and empowerment, a great place to ask questions and keep up to date with the latest technology, not to mention organising social meet-ups and so much more.

Women need to invest in themselves, but often don’t know how to convince their partners (or themselves) that they need to!

It’s all about putting yourself first, not an easy task especially for women. From our experience here at TechPixies, we have worked with 100’s of women and a key takeaway is that women don’t invest in themselves.

Women think about themselves last most of the time - family and school obligations often take first priority. If you haven’t been working, it can feel difficult to justify the expense of the course, even if you know that it is a good investment and demonstrates value for money.

TechPixies founder Joy Foster, has some great advice on how to discuss taking a course and its cost with your partner. As part of Joy’s advice, she says you need to let yourself go there, don’t think about the worse case scenario, but instead let yourself think about the best thing that can happen to you. It’s mind blowing, so simple, yet so few think in that way. Go on try it!

Don’t forget: Life is short, you should be doing something you love

Corny as it may sound, the ultimate aim is to do something you love. Of course there needs to be a career goal, but make sure that you are retraining for yourself and not for someone else. You never know what’s round the corner, a whole new set of friends, a new network that could lead to a new job or a business idea. Keep focused on your goal.

Make sure that your training will actually get you the job you want/or help you start your dream business. There is no point doing something that is a trend or discounted. You need to look at the bigger picture. Having done your research, you should have a clear understanding of why you are upskilling.

We say go for it, reframe how you think about training. Keep training, keep happy.

TechPixies is an award-winning social enterprise helping women across the UK upskill with Social Media, Digital Marketing and WordPress. We offer Self-Paced, Guided Group Online and Face to Face Courses. Our courses are designed to help women return to work, change careers and start a business by teaching them how to use modern technology. We have a very interactive private Facebook group for current and alumni TechPixies. To join our mailing list and get weekly inspiration in your inbox, register your interest.

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#northernflex - Shouting about the love of flex up North with.....

Helen Wright



1. Tell us a little about you? (work, family, location etc) 

I live in South Manchester with my husband, our 7 year old daughter and 3 year old twin sons. 

I'm a childrenswear designer and have been with the same company for over 11 years. I've worked part time since having my daughter and now work during school hours (so 3 days split over 4 Mon-Thurs). I'm able to do the drop offs/pick ups and be there for that after school/dinner time/homework wind down. These are 'set hours' but if I ever have to shuffle my hours around a bit or work on an evening it's never been a problem. Everyone is a winner in this situation.. I still hit all of my deadlines and do a good job, I miss the rush hour traffic and the kids and I have our valuable time together through the week.

2. Your fave spot in Manchester? 

Probably the cafe at Whitworth Art Gallery... a big glass box surrounded by trees!!

3. How would you describe your ideal working week? 

Close to what I currently work. I would say working during school hours as the core of the job and working during the early evening if I have to shuffle my day around due to school plays/special events etc.

4. Fave Manchester band/song?

It changes all the time but at the minute its Ceremony by New Order.

5. Why does flexible working appeal to you? So many reasons. I've had many conversations with people with and without kids about it. I feel like it's a shift that needs to finally happen to suit our modern way of living. It's great for people's well being and the economy.. it helps equalise the workplace when it comes to working mothers and fathers and ultimately would play a big part in closing the gender pay gap. I want to spend time with my children when they finish school for the day and be proud of my design work.. flexible working allows me to do this.