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People who change careers seem to prefer the idea of getting their hands dirty to desk work. Office jobs were the least popular among the 75,000 callers to the Learndirect advice line during 2006.

The most commonly considered career paths are electrical work, plumbing, being a teaching assistant, nursery nursing and nursing.

Alison Taylor, a Learndirect career coach, said: "Men tend to be concerned about the financial implications a job change will have.

"Women are usually apprehensive about how work or retraining will affect their family life."

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