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Money and lifestyle issues driving a wave of career change for UK engineers

12 August 2011

The career-for-life is vanishing, with about half of all UK engineers (47 per cent) saying they expect to switch careers within the next five years, according to the latest survey results from Kelly Services. The main cause, cited by 22 per cent of engineers, is changing personal interests, followed by the need for higher income (17 per cent), and the need for improved work-life balance (25 per cent).

The findings about career choice and career progression are part of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, which obtained the views of approximately 97,000 people in 30 countries, including approximately 2,200 in the U.K.
“We are seeing a surprisingly large number of people who are actively considering the critical issue of whether they should change their careers and make a fresh start,” says Dominic Graham, head of Kelly Services' professional and technical services.

“For an earlier generation, a change of career would have been something of a crisis, however today, it is seen as a reflection of shifts in demand for different skills and occupations, as well as changing personal interests on the part of employees.”

One sign of the shifting attitude to career interruption is that 67 per cent of engineers surveyed believing they could resume their career at the same level after taking a break for such things as maternity or paternity leave, illness or an extended holiday.

Results of the survey in the U.K show:
In determining the most important elements in a person’s career – experience or formal education – the vast majority of engineers (84 per cent) nominate experience, while 16 per cent cite formal education and 1 per cent are undecided.
Most engineers (73 per cent) say that when looking for a job, the best indicator of a person’s talent is their work experience, followed by performance in the job interview (14 per cent), job references (7 per cent) and education (5 per cent).

More than two-thirds of engineers (67 per cent) say they aspire to an executive position, while 26 per cent do not.
The main reasons for engineers avoiding executive positions are the impact on work-life balance, cited by 37 per cent, followed by concern about pressure and stress (26 per cent), inadequate skills (14 per cent), and lack of ambition (12 per cent).

89 per cent of engineers say that it is either “extremely important” or “important” that qualifications and skills be upgraded in order to progress their career.
“As individuals take greater control of their careers in engineering, there is a likelihood of employees moving in and out of the workforce for both professional and lifestyle reasons. Employers and employees will both need to adapt to this new workplace reality, where the smooth career pathway will be the exception rather than the rule,” Dominic Graham concludes.

For more information about these survey results and other key global findings, visit the Kelly Global Workforce Index

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