10 Jan 2017

The Open University partners with Debenhams to launch the ultimate VIP Career Styling Experience

- New consumer poll from The Open University (OU) reveals two thirds of us will be searching for a new job this January

- OU and Debenhams to give away eight exclusive career styling makeovers

- University encourages people to take the next step on their dream career path in 2017

With Blue Monday* just around the corner and many looking to carry out New Year’s resolutions for 2017, a consumer poll commissioned by The Open University (OU) has today unveiled that almost two thirds (59.7%) of people in the UK will be looking to give their careers an overhaul this year.

There are a number of perceived barriers to taking that next step, with one in five (22%) feeling completely lost and unsure of where to begin. A further 21% thinks that because they have been in their current role for such a long time, it would be difficult to start over. Plus one in six (16%) worry it would be too stressful to manage alongside their hectic family life.

Millennials are most likely to feel confused about their plans (56% of 16-34 year olds) compared to only 1 in 10 of those aged 50+ (9%). The polling further exposed that people are struggling to balance their personal and professional lives in today’s busy, fast-paced society, with a surprising one in four people (25%) finding it difficult to maintain what they see to be a positive work/life balance.

To empower people to take that next step on the career ladder in 2017 and choose a career path that is right for them, the OU has partnered with leading high street retailer Debenhams to design and bring to life the ultimate ‘Career Styling Experience’**.

These sessions will not only provide participants with expert career guidance and direction, but also useful personal styling tips for the workplace. They’ll help candidates to dress for success for that next job interview or important meeting with their boss and will also be gifted with £200 worth of clothes to take away with them on the day.

It’s evident that a healthy work-life balance is important for providing life satisfaction and fulfilment too, so the sessions will additionally offer participants one-on-one life coaching to support people working towards achieving their desired work-life balance.

The public can win eight exclusive VIP sessions. Each personalised session will include an hour with an expert careers advisor from the OU, half an hour with a life coach and an hour with a leading personal stylist from Debenhams. These will take place across dates in February in the personal styling suites of Debenhams’ Oxford Street, London store (3rd, 6th, 10th February 2017) and winners will be provided with up to £80 to cover their travel expenses.

To be in with a chance of winning one of these experiences, please email and explain who you are, where you’re from and why you think you deserve to win one of these VIP sessions. Please include the date you would prefer to attend a session on (3rd, 6th, or 10th February 2017) and note that the word count for entries should not exceed 300. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 25th January. Winners will be selected by Friday 27th January.

Claire Riding, Head of Careers and Employability Services at The Open University, comments: “January can be a reflective time of year with the post-festive season lull and feelings of uncertainty surfacing as people start to think about the year ahead. We want to support people and give them the guidance to take the next step on their dream career path this year, so we’ll be providing winners with all the tools they need to enable them to do so with confidence.

“We all know that sometimes obstacles can get in the way and hold us back from starting a new job. We hope that by offering these Career Styling Experiences and highlighting the benefits of the OU’s flexible study offering, we will show people just how feasible it can be and inspire people to embrace a new learning journey this year.”

Juliet Landau-Pope, certified life coach and professional organiser of JLPCoach, adds:
"Contemplating changes at work can be overwhelming, especially when goals are uncertain. Life coaching helps people to review career plans within the broader context of their lives, to focus on what matters most and to see the bigger picture.

“In these sessions we’ll review and challenge the obstacles our candidates anticipate and identify the first steps they’ll need to take in order to kick-start them into action. My approach is practical, positive and purposeful, with an emphasis on empowering candidates to make the very best of 2017."

Alain Mehada, Personal Stylist at Debenhams Oxford Street, concludes: “Dressing for work and job interviews is one of the key reasons people visit us. Particularly in January, after the Christmas festivities, many people are looking for a confidence boost in the New Year. It is just as important to feel comfortable in work-wear as looking the part, and it is amazing how much inner confidence can come from finding the perfect outfit that works for you.”

The OU’s approach to learning means that people don’t have to put their lives on hold in order to study: students are provided with a variety of materials to suit all lifestyles and abilities; online student forums can be accessed from anywhere; and each student has a dedicated tutor with whom they are in regular contact.

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