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Careers in the doldrums

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A new survey of 2,000 employees* released today by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has found that almost half (42 percent) of those questioned feel they are further behind in their careers than they would like to be at this stage of their lives.

The data goes on to reveal that whilst individuals are blaming their slow progress on those around them, some have accepted that they have the power to bring about change. According to the survey, some employees believe that they have been overlooked for promotion or a pay-rise in the last year because their employer doesn’t have the funds available to pay for them to progress (22 percent).  Others go further, claiming that their boss is not fighting their corner enough (nine percent).  However, many respondents admit that they need to get more experience (13 percent), and that they do not have the right training or qualifications (six percent) to advance.

The survey highlights employees’ recognition that they need to do more to get ahead in their careers, including working overtime on a regular basis (44 percent), taking on additional responsibility for no extra money (37 percent) and studying in their spare time for a professional qualification (45 percent). Thankfully, just three percent admit they would claim a colleagues’ work as their own. However, despite the fact that nearly a third of those surveyed (29 percent) believe that a professional qualification helps an individual’s ability to lead people, teams and projects just four percent of those surveyed are currently studying for a professional qualification and only 12 percent plan to do so “in the near future”.

Narinder Uppal, director of the Awarding Body at CMI said of the findings: “It’s clear that we all recognise the importance of professional qualifications in our career development – but at the same time, it’s disappointing that more people aren’t helping themselves. It’s too easy to blame others for your own lack of progress, but in a time of tighter budgets and increasing competitiveness in the job market, those people that are prepared to make an effort to improve their skills will be the ones that employers turn to first.”

Asked why they haven’t done anything to help themselves, the top reasons cited were the cost of qualifications (39 percent), the length of time they would take to complete (30 percent) and “not knowing which qualification would be best for my career development” (13 percent). Yet these findings come in the wake of analysis revealing that the estimated lifetime economic benefit associated with holding professional qualifications amounts to £81,000**, a figure which compares favourably to the cost of undertaking a degree-level equivalent qualification in management and leadership.  CMI’s latest survey also shows that each week the UK’s employees are spending an average of five hours watching television, four hours shopping online or using social media, and two hours playing computer games – yet completing a degree equivalent qualification in management and leadership would only amount to three hours a week of study throughout the year***.

Des Benjamin, chief executive of Simplyhealth, says: “It is increasingly difficult to chart a secure future in the world of employment. I believe the best guarantee of employability is to keep learning and studying to gain new qualifications and skills which will indicate to future potential employers a desire to think and work in new ways and that is very attractive from an employer’s point of view. I would encourage equal attention to be paid to learning both the science and art of management.”

Philippa Williamson, chief executive at the Serious Fraud Office and CMI Companion added: “Good managers need to be a bit like a sponge. They absorb issues, distil and contextualise them to try and keep external pressure at a distance from staff focused on delivery. But their skills have to remain current – how a leader dealt with something five years ago may no longer be applicable in today’s working environment, and people who are responsible for the development of others must bear this in mind, first taking responsibility for themselves.

“I like qualifications because they demonstrate personal commitment. Although I work with lots of professionals, very few of them have been adequately prepared for the management and leadership challenges they face. Don’t assume people always understand the risks they are taking. That, however, isn’t an excuse to let them run wild. It’s a reason to ensure your employees are clued up and qualified to do the jobs you ask of them.”

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