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The rise of ‘Generation Unsustainable’ in Engineering

16 March 2011

Some 20% of UK engineers are in unsustainable, unconventional jobs as the effects of the recession continue to impact the UK labour market. The latest findings from the Kelly Global Workforce Index indicate the emergence of Generation U, a new breed of workers that faces an unsustainable combination of long and/or unusual hours, multiple jobs, living away from home and excessive travel as a normal part of their lives.

This is concerning for the engineering community as it will create a long term talent issue for the sector in the UK job market. Generation U is the result of the widespread ‘more for less’ business mantra formed out of the recession as businesses across the UK aim to drive up efficiency while reducing costs.
Kelly Services UK Country General Manager, Andrew Cook says: “Across many industries, there are a host of people who are now prepared to work in an unconventional way, moving within their own country, or moving abroad in the pursuit of work, but some of this is unsustainable

“Working in an unconventional way can play a key role in career advancement but you don’t have to fit the Generation U profile to profit from the diverse global demand for talent. We can help candidates who are willing to travel and be flexible to attain the personal rewards and career opportunities they want in a sustainable way”

The Kelly Global Workforce Index obtained the views of approximately 97,000 people in 30 countries, including more than 2,200 in the U.K. A summary of the UK survey results show:

Some 49 percent of Gen Y are prepared to travel abroad for the right job, compared with 41 percent of Gen X and 30 percent of baby boomers. Men are also more willing to move than women.

·  Among various industry sectors, those working in oil & gas are the most prepared to shift countries for work (62 percent), followed by engineering (55 percent) and hospitality (53 percent).

·  The overwhelming factor preventing people from moving abroad for a job is “family and friends,” cited by 54 percent, followed by the cost of moving (23 percent), language barriers (13 percent), and cultural differences (3 percent).
·  The desire to move to a different continent is driven by “the experience” rather than setting up permanent residence, with 48 percent prepared to stay for three years or less.
·  More than one-quarter (28 percent) are working in what they consider unconventional arrangements. Of these, the most common grievance is “long hours,” affecting 27 percent, followed by unusual hours (25 percent), living away from home (16 percent), multiple jobs (15 percent), and excessive travel (12 percent).
·  43 percent of those working in unconventional arrangements believe they can only continue doing so for up to one year. However, more than a quarter (29 percent) say they can sustain it “indefinitely.”
For more information about these survey results and other key global findings, please visit the Kelly Global Workforce Index

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