With people living longer lives than our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, many of us will want or need to work for longer. In a world of fast-moving economic, technological and ecological change, it is now widely accepted that for lots of us, the ability to change roles, reskill and switch sectors is becoming increasingly important.
And people are already planning and making changes to their careers. A third of 45-54 year olds are expecting to change their career before they retire and only a third of young adults are expecting to have a single career for life. But many people do not know how best to navigate these changes or where to get information and advice on what opportunities are out there.
We wanted to explore this further to look into these issues more closely and find out how citizens feel about switching careers in midlife and what would incentivise and support them to do so.
We used new polling of 3,345 UK adults aged 16-75 that we conducted with Ipsos MORI. We also drew on focus groups among people in midlife who are dissatisfied at work conducted for us by Message House, and on previous polling we have conducted for previous Phoenix Insights reports, such as our Longer Lives Index survey conducted in summer 2021 with Frontier Economics, and polling of people over 50 conducted with Public First as part of our research into economic inactivity.
We found the biggest motivators for changing jobs are better pay and job security, particularly for women. The biggest barriers to switching jobs are a lack of confidence, worries about being either too old or too young to make a change, and that it could be too costly.
When asked what actions people have taken about their careers in the last six months, 40% of people have not done anything. The most common actions were to think about it for themselves, have conversations with family and friends, or look for information online.
Awareness of careers information and advice services is low, and is lowest among older age groups. Only around a fifth of adults say they have heard of the National Careers Service, UCAS Careers Advice or the UK Careers Fair.
When people do access careers advice, they reported a range of positive benefits, in particular how it helped them to realise the range of options that were available to them, and understand their own strengths and skills.
44% of adults would be interested in getting information about career options, and yet the same proportion had never thought about getting careers advice previously.
People are particularly interested in getting information about how they can use their skills in different jobs, and the different types of jobs or careers that might be available to them.
Through the Careers can change campaign we want to inspire people to see that careers can change successfully, whether small incremental shifts within the same company or industry or a significant pivot. We want to support people to make more informed choices about career changes by connecting them to information, services and organisations that can help them.
The campaign, backed by a brilliant group of partners, is led by Phoenix Insights, because we believe that changing careers can help people to improve, enjoy and extend their working lives. This is important to us in the context of longevity, and helping society capitalise on the opportunities longer lives can bring.
Phoenix Group is proud to be working with Amazing If, Brave Starts, CareerShifters, Enterprise Nation, Now Teach, Women Returners, the Learning and Work Institute and Postcards from Midlife Live and would like to thank them for their contribution and collaboration with this campaign.