If you are a 'Millennial' (aged 18-34), odds are that you are very much ready to move on to a new position.
A recent UK survey conducted by the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) reveals that 66 percent of workers aged 18-34 want to change careers. Overall, considering all working-age groups across the UK, that proportion falls to 47 percent, with 55 percent of workers in London looking for a change. By contrast, workers in Cardiff are the highest scorers in terms of being happy with their careers: 68 percent seem to be satisfied with their work.
Source: LSBF Careers Report
This means that younger people, in their majority, want a career change. That in itself is not a bad thing. After all, if you are ambitious you want more responsibilities, higher income or maybe, quite simply, want to try something new. When you are younger you are more likely to check whether the grass is actually greener on the other side of the fence.
Certainly the research shows that the main drive for younger people to look for another job are the prospects of a better salary. After all, Millennials are in a stage of their lives where salaries are not always high, yet life commitments such as mortgages and possibly a new a family demand that extra income.
The next age group (35-44) is much more driven by work/life balance. So yes, they also might be looking for another job, but by and large with a different motivation. They want to spend more time with their partners and children. Not surprisingly, when you are 55 or older you are much less likely to be on the lookout for the next big opportunity. Only 19 percent of the older age group is still looking for a career change.
Buried in all these statistics are two very important observations. First of all, if two thirds of Millennials are looking for another job, why do they not actually move? The most common reason - cited by 29% of Millennials - seems to be financial insecurity. In simple words: despite the prospects of better salaries in the future, they don't seem to want to take the risk. Another significant obstacle in changing careers is a fear of failure, cited by 15 percent of participants. Ultimately, many professionals end up sticking with what they've got, rather than seeking the career change they long for.
All these statistics show a rather bleak picture. But the figure that really caught my attention was the 30 per cent of the 25-34 age group that regret their career choice. This shocking message implies that a third of this age group are working in a job they dislike.
This reveals, in part, a flaw in our education system. As I argued before in this blog, it is important to ensure schools and universities provide opportunities to try out different career options and employers.
In the US, some of the leading universities have been very successful with the so-called co-op education system, whereby during their studies students have the opportunity to try out different work options by doing work placements. It helps them to choose the right career path, reducing the risk of following a path which they might regret in the future. Of course, this co-op education structure also enriches their learning experience, preparing students for the working world in a more rounded way.
A survey like this produces a lot of statistics but we should never forget that this is about real people. It is a sad reality of modern life that many realise they opted for the wrong career but then decide to stick with it due to fear of change.
Education - and, more precisely, work-integrated education - has an important role in reducing the chances of that happening. The right career path will boost the quality of one's life and also the quality of work because employees who are happy with their work are likely also to be much better at it. In the end, it's a win-win situation.
Professor Maurits van Rooijen is the Rector and Chief Executive at London School of Business and Finance (LSBF)