Many people see losing their job as the end of the world, but one Vale resident has turned it into an opportunity by retraining as an electrician and setting up his own business.
Chris Barnes was a store manager for a television and hi-fi company, where he had worked for 18 years, when it went into administration and he was left unemployed.
At first the Aston Clinton resident hoped he would be able to get another job, but he quickly realised there weren’t many opportunities about and spotted a way to turn his life around.
Mr Barnes, 43, said: “I saw how the high street was shrinking and thought it was time to retrain.
“I looked around to see what sort of careers were doing well and realised that electricians were in demand.”
Rather than starting a college course, which wasn’t an option with a family to look after and a mortgage to pay, Mr Barnes enlisted the help of New Career Skills, which specialises in retraining adults looking for a change of career.
Mr Barnes took seven months to retrain, and at first considered trying to get a job with someone, but the appeal of being his own boss won the day and he set up his own company, Barnes Systems Ltd.
Now he has plenty of work coming in and enjoys the fact it is down to him to go out and find jobs, rather than trying to convince an employer to take him on, and his family are delighted with what he has achieved.
He said: “My wife is very proud of me and the fact that I got up and did something. I’ve never been in that position before, of not having a job. And my five-year-old son can’t wait until I have my own van. I’ll have made it then.”
Mr Barnes also enjoys being able to set his own hours.
He said: “Recently, I worked overnight at a pub while it was closed so that the next day I was free to go and see my eight-year-old daughter’s show, and I can be flexible so that I can go to things like sports days. I’ve never had that flexibility before, working in a shop with set hours, so that’s a huge benefit.
“Plus, now I’ve got my own business and if my children want to be involved in it in the future, they can be.”
Steven Wines, New Career Skills’ chief executive, said the company had seen a 15% rise in the number of people looking to retrain as a plumber or electrician since the recession began.
Mr Wines said: “Traditional trades are seen as a safe harbour in difficult times because much of the work undertaken, principally maintenance work, cannot be put off.”