Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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3.1 Key learning

The following case study illustrates the key learning points that are possible from studying this course.

Case study: Phil

Phil is a Customer Services Assistant working in a busy call centre providing support to customers of a large energy supplier. He is currently not very happy in his role, but is torn between seeking another role with his current employer, changing to a different employer in the same sector or line of work, or completely changing his career.

Phil has looked back at the activities he has completed and his reflections in his notebook and decided that his key learning over the last few weeks has been as follows:

Global and international factors

  • Changes in the global energy production market
  • Political events in the Middle East and Russia
  • International environmental agreements and legislation
  • Globalisation of labour markets
  • The economics of renewable energy
  • Political support for renewable energy suppliers

Customers, competitors and suppliers

  • Customers’ overall energy usage
  • Customers switching to ‘greener’ energy sources
  • Tariff changes by competitors
  • Advertising campaigns by competitors
  • Suppliers changing pricing structures
  • Increasing levels of dissatisfaction registered by customers
  • Outsourcing of customer service functions leading to changes in conditions of employment

Other sources of information and support

  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy policy statements
  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy research into energy supply and usage
  • Local government support for businesses switching to greener energy sources
  • Availability of training (NVQs and higher level qualifications) in customer support
  • IT training offered by his trade union


  • Friends in other employment sectors
  • Alumni from college on Facebook
  • Family contacts with experience in retail management
  • Forthcoming conference for trade union representatives

Job markets

  • Other opportunities with current employer including supervisory posts
  • Opportunities with other employers in same sector
  • Change of career using skills and experience gained from current employment

SWOT analysis

  • I can see ways to improve turnaround times in handling customer enquiries
  • There may be opportunities for further in-house training and possible promotion
  • Maybe now would be a good time to look at more ambitious options like a degree course
  • Employer has a graduate training scheme that would be an option post-degree
  • My interpersonal and teamwork skills are excellent so I could consider a career change
  • There are gaps in my attributes that I may need to address

At the moment, this is just a list of areas that Phil has learned about – in greater or lesser detail – that might have an impact on his future career.

Activity 3 Your key learning

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Go back over the last few weeks and look at some of the activities that you completed. Look back also at the reflections you have recorded in your notebook. See if you can complete the table in a similar way to Phil so that you are capturing the key learning points as you go along.

Table 4 Identifying your key learning
Global and international factors (Week 2)
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Customers, competitors and suppliers (Week 3)
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Other sources of information and support (Week 4)
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Networking (Week 5)
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Job markets (Week 6)
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SWOT analysis (Week 7)
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Your response to this activity will be completely individual and there is no right or wrong answer, except what seems appropriate for you. You may have left some boxes completely empty and put more details into others. That’s perfectly understandable as we are all individuals with different mindsets and circumstances that will dictate which areas we find personally interesting and valuable and which we do not. The important thing is that you have made the effort to sift through and analyse the information you have collected.

You should now have a stripped-down version of all the research and thinking that you have done during this course. This should represent the key information for you personally that you have gleaned and which will form the basis for your personal action plan. Some of it may require further work or activity; for example, something interesting on the government website may have grabbed your attention but you have not looked into it properly yet. That’s fine – this can be included in your action plan as a task to be completed in the future, perhaps as a priority.

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