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Mid-career switching looks set to rise

Jon Wilson, CEO - Totaljobs

Growing numbers of mid-career workers (aged 31-40) are thinking about changing their career, with 64% of this group willing to retrain as they plan for a future post-Covid-19 – the highest proportion of all age groups. This is despite workers over the age of 35 being less likely have been laid off over the last year compared to other age groups.

The Totaljobs and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report, reflecting the opinions of 209,000 participants in 190 countries (3,000 in the UK), reveals that, globally, retraining willingness is highest among workers in sectors that have fared worse during the pandemic, or have the most concern about job automation.

In the UK, people with job roles such as services (77%), manual and manufacturing (76%) and customer service (76%) are the most willing to retrain, while the industries with the highest percentages of people willing to retrain are insurance (78%), consumer products and services (66%), energy (65%), and travel and tourism (65%).

Jon Wilson, CEO of Totaljobs said: With up to 5 million workers still on furlough[1], the full impact of the pandemic on people’s careers remains to be seen. Our findings suggest that as the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap runs its course, many more people could be changing jobs. The evidence of a growing desire to switch jobs is also supported by Totaljobs research from last year, which showed that 70% of people were more likely to consider working in a different sector as a result of Covid-19.

“Workers and employers alike have come to accept that real security lies in being adaptable, which sometimes means shifting roles or even careers, and thinking outside the box when it comes to hiring. Employers shouldn’t be afraid to tap into new talent pools from mid-career workers with transferable skills from different industries. These workers are likely to bring fresh perspectives that will enable them to contribute to a business’ success and allow them to hit the ground running.”

The perceived threat of automation
The economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic comes at a time when some workers already have a level of concern about the impact of technology and automation on their jobs. On average, 35% of UK workers have become more concerned about automation during the pandemic, rising to 51% of those aged under 20 and falling to 32% of 31-40 year olds. Increased concern is especially common among those who work in legal (56%), insurance (48%), media (44%) and financial institutions (42%).

Prioritising learning to access new roles
The study shows a high level of realism in people’s attitudes to retraining, with many people considering retraining to be able to access roles in sectors which are similar to their existing one, such as manual workers becoming technicians, or administrative workers looking into finance or HR positions. Overall, digital and information technology top the list of potential careers that workers believe retraining can unlock, likely due to the expanding opportunities and generally high remuneration for these types of roles.

Globally, the proportion of workers spending a few weeks or more on learning and development has held steady, at two-thirds (65%), since the last Global Talent Survey in 2018. In the UK, over half (52%) of workers spend more than a few weeks learning every year, with only 8% spending no time at all. 21–30-year-olds spend the most time learning (61%), closely followed by 31-40 year olds (59%), with those working in science and research (76%), consulting (66%) and HR (66%) spending the most time on learning and development.

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