Updating our image of 3 major Oxford job sectors

What’s your mental image of an ‘engineer’?

An AI machine learning model recently examined the online images associated with the job title ‘engineer’.

The images [..] showed how narrowly an engineer is typically portrayed online: the majority of the generated images were of a white male wearing a hard hat. An online search, conducted by the Royal Academy of Engineering on 21 October 2019, found that 63% of images on the first page of the search results were of a person in a hard hat, despite the fact that only a small minority of professional engineers wear hard hats most of the time.


This led me to think about the other professions where I’ve found that an inaccurate image has proven an obstacle to clients who are considering their job options in Oxford.

Image update #1: NHS

Pie chart showing NHS FTE staff numbers - 177,903 working in infrastructure support- - 13%,  614,898 in support for clinical staff - 45%, and less than half, 42% in professionally qualified clinical roles. (also <1% in 'other' roles)
NHS England – Full time equivalent roles in the main staff categories working in Trusts and clinical commissioning groups, July 2019 Source: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/nhs-workforce-statistics/july-2019

The NHS is a big employer not just in Oxford, but across the country, so I’m always surprised that so many people presume that there is only a minority of roles available for those without medical qualifications.

A quick look at the latest (at time of writing) statistics, shows clearly that less than half (42% to be exact) of jobs are held by professionally qualified staff – that includes doctors, nurses, health visitors, midwives, ambulance staff and scientific, therapeutic and technical staff (such as clinical scientists).

That means that the majority of roles in the NHS aretherefore available to those who aren’t medically qualified. There’s a useful tool to explore 350 different NHS roles and see which might be suited to you at https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/FindYourCareer.

Image update #2: University

Candles in Oxford college chapel
What’s your mental image of working for the University of Oxford?

One of the other big employers in Oxford are the two universities. The University of Oxford and its colleges occasionally still seem to have a clear mental image for some clients I work with, particularly the idea that perhaps something that goes alongside exceptional historic architecture are exceptionally historic social views.

If you’re familiar with the university you hopefully won’t be surprised to hear that the University of Oxford ranked in Stonewall’s list of the top 100 LGBT employers this year, a really useful guide to a broader attitude of support and inclusion. See the full list and other support on finding and building inclusive workplaces at https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/top-100-employers-2019

Image update #3: Publishing

C.S. Lewis books and other fiction titles on a shelf
What’s your mental image of working in publishing?

This must be the most pervasive image I hear about. When I invite a client to tell me more about their interest in working in publishing (a big industry in Oxford), often the first thing they’ll tell me is how they ‘love to read’ and ‘would love to spend all day reading’.

While many working in the profession would agree a passion for books is a great starting point, it’s worth noting three important facts:

  1. Not every job in publishing is in editorial! Rights, sales, design, marketing are all major areas of work.
  2. Not every publishing department deals with fiction. Academic publishing, non-fiction and trade press are important areas. Literary fiction is a small part of the industry.
  3. It’s a business: margins can be small, projects can be tricky to make commercially viable, and the book market is ever-changing with new technology. It’s a great place to work in a commercial business, but not somewhere where a typical day involves a novel and a knee-rug.

If you’re keen to work in publishing, you might want to explore Oxford’s thriving branch of the Society of Young Publishers who run events for members and non-members, including a regular book club for the fun reading outside of work! A great place to chat informally to people in the field.

What other industries do you think need an image update?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *