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Drivers of career choice and career progression report


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Approximately 97,000 people from 30 countries in the Americas, APAC, and EMEA regions responded to a workplace survey developed by Kelly Services®. The Kelly Global Workforce Index (KGWI) revealed opinions about work and the workplace from a generational viewpoint.

This report highlights responses to questions regarding Career Choice and Career Progression. The questions focused on:

- The relative importance of job experience and formal education in career development
- The importance of skills development
- The likelihood and causes of career change
- The impact of career “breaks”
- The desire to advance to an executive position
- The best indicators of talent among job seekers

Published in: Career, Technology, Business
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Drivers of career choice and career progression report

  1. Drivers of Career Choiceand Career Progressiont h e e v o lv i n g w o r k f o r c e
  3. : The Evolving Workforcet h e e v o lv i n g w o r k f o r c e : D r i v e r s o f C a r e e r C h o i c e a n d C a r e e r P r o g r e s s i o nBEST INDICATORS OF the career for life is vanishing.talent more than half of all employees expect to switch careers in the next work experience: 61% 5 years main reasons: job interview: 23% 27%: need for higher income references: 9% 24%: better work-life balance education: 7% 23%: changing personal interests who wants to 97% believe qualification and skill be an executive? 72% do. 20% don’t. significantly More men upgrades are overwhelmingly aim higher than women 80 important when it comes to % career progression 78 % 66% experience vs education reasons for not wanting the top job74 26 practical job experience is more important % % when deciding career success pressure/stress: 25%believe it have their work-life balance: 25%will be OK doubts lack of ambition: 17%more people believe they will be able to other: 9%Resume their careers after taking a breakfor events such as maternal/paternal leave, 18 % lack of skills/education: 20%illness, or an extended holiday3
  4. : The Evolving WorkforceintroductionAPPROXIMATELY 97,000 PEOPLE FROM 30 COUNTRIES ACROSS THE AMERICAS, APAC,AND EMEA REGIONS RESPONDED TO A WORKPLACE SURVEY DEVELOPED BY KELLYSERVICES®. THE KELLY GLOBAL WORKFORCE INDEX (KGWI) REVEALED OPINIONSABOUT WORK AND THE WORKPLACE FROM A GENERATIONAL VIEWPOINT.Survey respondents ranged in age from 18 to 65 and This report highlights responses to questions regardingcomprised the following generational groups: Career Choice and Career Progression. The questions focused on:Generation Y (age 18 – 29), Generation X (age 30 – 47),and the Baby Boomer generation (age 48 – 65). • The relative importance of job experience and formal education in career developmentThe global survey was open to everyone, with no • The importance of skills developmentrestrictions. To that end, respondents were either • The likelihood and causes of career changeemployed within a variety of industries, ranging frominformation technology to finance, or were unemployed • The impact of career “breaks”and searching for future work opportunities. • The desire to advance to an executive position • The best indicators of talent among job seekersEach respondent revealed their viewpoints on thefollowing four topics:• Talent Mobility• Social Media/Networking• Drivers of Career Choice and Career Progression• Effective Employers/Employer of Choice4
  5. : The Evolving WorkforceIMPACT OF JOB EXPERIENCE AND FORMALEDUCATION ON CAREERSIN THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR CAREER,WHAT HAS BEEN MOST IMPORTANT— 01 EXPERIENCE ONLINE JOB BOARDEXPERIENCE OR FORMAL EDUCATION? 26%(BY GENERATION) 80% 31% Baby Boomers 24% 76% 19%According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index,when it comes to the most important elements in a 82% SOCIAL MEDIA SITEperson’s career—experience or formal education— 1% 83% 1% Generation Xthe vast majority (80 percent) nominates experience, 1%while 18 percent cite formal education and 2 percent 1%are undecided. WORD-OF-MOUTH FORMAL EDUCATION 22% all generationsAcross all generations, job experience is considered 23% 18% Generation Ythe predominant factor in shaping a person’s career. 22% Generation Y 22% 21%It is most apparent among older age groups, with Generation X83 percent of Baby Boomers and 82 percent of Gen PRINT ADVERTISEMENT 16% Baby boomersX citing it as the most important factor in career 7%development, higher than Gen Y (76 percent). 4% 15% 8% All Generations 10% DIRECT APPROACH FROM EMPLOYER DON’T KNOW 17% 16% 2% 18% 19% 3% RECRUITMENT/STAFFING COMPANY 2% 17% 16% 2% 18% 17% OTHER 10% 8% 10% 13%5
  6. : The Evolving WorkforceIMPACT OF JOB EXPERIENCE AND FORMALEDUCATION ON CAREERSIN THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUR CAREER,WHAT HAS BEEN MOST IMPORTANT— 02 EXPERIENCE ONLINE JOB BOARDEXPERIENCE OR FORMAL EDUCATION? 26%(BY region) 80% 33% Americas 25% 84% 24%The emphasis on experience as a career decider is 77% SOCIAL MEDIA SITEmore pronounced in APAC, with 84 percent citing 1% 81%it as the predominant influence on their careers, 1% EMEAhigher than in both the Americas (81 percent) and 1% 1%EMEA (77 percent). WORD-OF-MOUTH FORMAL EDUCATION 22% all countries 22% 18% APAC 20% APAC 27% 15% EMEA PRINT ADVERTISEMENT 20% Americas 7% 5% 17% 7% All Countries 7% DIRECT APPROACH FROM EMPLOYER DON’T KNOW 17% 14% 2% 20% 15% 1% RECRUITMENT/STAFFING COMPANY 3% 17% 20% 2% 17% 14% OTHER 10% 5% 11% 12%6
  7. : The Evolving WorkforceIMPORTANCE OF UPGRADING QUALIFICATIONSAND SKILLSIN ORDER TO PROGRESS YOUR CAREER,HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT YOU UPGRADE 03 YES AMERICAS Baby BoomersYOUR QUALIFICATIONS AND/OR SKILLS? 66% 24% 29%(BY GENERATION and region) 71% 23% 36% 69%Well over half of all respondents (61 percent) say it is 24% Generation X 22%extremely important that their qualifications and skills 56% 24%be upgraded in order to advance their careers. APACThe need to upgrade skills is most important to Gen Generation Y 68%Y, with 64 percent saying it is extremely important for NOtheir career development. By contrast, 60 percent of 73% 75%Gen X and 55 percent of Baby Boomers describe skills 64% all generations 76%upgrading as extremely important. 51% All Generations Generation Y 74% Generation XAcross the globe, there is a considerably higher priority 75%on upgrading skills in APAC and the Americas than EMEA Baby boomersin EMEA. In APAC, 68 percent say that doing so is 54%extremely important, compared with 66 percent in the 55%Americas and 54 percent in EMEA. DONT KNOW 53% 1% 54% 1% 1% ALL COUNTRIES 61% 1% 64% 60% 55%7
  8. : The Evolving WorkforceLIKELIHOOD OF CAREER CHANGEDO YOU ANTICIPATE HAVING TO CHANGEYOUR CAREER OR FIELD OF WORK WITHINTHE NEXT FIVE YEARS? 04 AMERICAS(BY GENERATION and region) 48% 29%More than half of all respondents (57 percent) say they 46% 36%expect to have to change their career or field of work 50%within the next five years. 22% 46%Fifty-eight percent of both Gen Y and Gen X believethey will have to change their careers, which is higher APACthan Baby Boomers (50 percent). 63% 66%There are some distinct regional differences, withmore respondents from APAC (63 percent) anticipating 63% all generationsa career change than in EMEA (59 percent) or the 51% Generation YAmericas (48 percent). Generation XWithin APAC, Gen Y is feeling the greatest pressure, EMEA Baby boomerswith two-thirds anticipating a career change within the 59%next five years, higher than any group across the survey. 57% 61%In EMEA, Gen X is the group most impacted, with 61 56%percent anticipating a career change.In the Americas, less than half of all respondents are ALL COUNTRIESlooking to change careers, but the most likely group to 57%do so is Gen X. 58% 58% 50%8
  9. : The Evolving WorkforceCAUSES OF CAREER CHANGEWHAT WOULD CAUSE YOU TO CHANGEYOUR CAREER OR FIELD OF WORK?(BY GENERATION) 05 FACEBOOK HIGHER INCOME NEED FOR 33% 27%The main driver of likely career change is need for 40% 30% 30% Baby Boomershigher income (27 percent), followed by better work- 27% 22% 20%life balance (24 percent), changing personal interests(23 percent), concern that the industry is in decline TWITTERWORK-LIFE BALANCE BETTER(14 percent), other issues (8 percent), and current 24% 3% Generation Xmanagement issues (4 percent). 23% 4% 24% 2%The need for higher income is most pronounced among 22% 2%Gen Y, and to a slightly lesser degree, Gen X. For Baby PERSONAL INTERESTS CHANGING Generation YBoomers, income is much less of a concern, and ranks LINKEDIN 23% 32%virtually equally with the state of the industry, changing 26% 23% all generationspersonal interests, and improved work-life balance. 22% 36% Generation Y 20% 39% All Generations Generation X CONCERN THAT INDUSTRY IS IN DECLINE BLOGS Baby boomers 14% 10% 11% 12% 14% 9% 20% 9% OTHER ISSUES OTHER 8% 23% 6% 21% 7% 22% 13% 27% CURRENT MANAGEMENT ISSUES 4% 4% 5% 5%9
  10. : The Evolving WorkforceCAUSES OF CAREER CHANGEWHAT WOULD CAUSE YOU TO CHANGEYOUR CAREER OR FIELD OF WORK?(BY REGION) 06 FACEBOOK HIGHER INCOME NEED FOR FACEBOOK 33% 27% AmericasAcross the globe, the main reasons for considering a 40% 32% 28% 30% Baby Boomerscareer change differ; in the Americas it’s concern about 35% 26% 22% 28% 28%income, in APAC it’s to improve work-life balance, andin EMEA it’s changing personal interests. EMEA TWITTERWORK-LIFE BALANCE BETTER TWITTER 24% 3% 3% Generation XThe Americas has a significantly larger share of people 30% 5% 4%concerned that their industries are in decline. 21%2% 2% 3% 22% 2% APACIn APAC, concern about income and the need for PERSONAL INTERESTS CHANGING Generation Y LINKEDIN LINKEDINimproved work-life balance account for more than 23% 32%half of all the issues driving career change. APAC 17% 23% 24% all countriesalso has significantly more individuals worried about 28% All countries 36% 30% APACorganizational management issues than elsewhere 20% 39% 40% All Generations EMEAaround the globe. CONCERN THAT INDUSTRY IS IN DECLINE BLOGS BLOGS Americas 14% 10% 10% 12% 17% 13% 9% 18% 9% 6% OTHER ISSUES OTHER 8% OTHER 23% 6% 21% 7% 22% 23% 9% 27% 23% CURRENT MANAGEMENT ISSUES 4% 9% 4% 2%10
  11. : The Evolving WorkforceRESUMING CAREER AFTER A BREAKIF YOU HAD A BREAK IN YOUR EMPLOYMENT(MATERNAL/PATERNAL LEAVE, ILLNESS,EXTENDED HOLIDAY), DO YOU THINK YOU 07 AMERICAS YES Baby BoomersWOULD BE ABLE TO RESUME YOUR CAREER 77% 26% 29%AT THE SAME LEVEL?(BY GENERATION AND REGION) 86% 28% 36% 78% 26% 22% Generation X 67%The prospect of taking time out from a person’s career 22%can have far-reaching employment consequences.Approximately three-quarters (74 percent) believe they APACwould be able to resume their careers at the same 76% Generation Ylevel after taking a break for such reasons as maternal/ NO 75%paternal leave, illness, or an extended holiday. 62% 79% all generations 63%Younger workers, notably Gen Y (76 percent) and Gen 72% All Generations Generation YX (74 percent) are most confident about their ability to 62% Generation Xresume their careers after a break, but only 67 percent 62% EMEA Baby boomersof Baby Boomers believe they could do so. 71%Respondents in the Americas (77 percent) and APAC 72%(76 percent) are somewhat more confident than those in DONT KNOW 70%EMEA (71 percent). 11% 67% 9% 11% ALL COUNTRIES 74% 16% 76% 74% 67%11
  12. : The Evolving WorkforceADVANCING TO AN EXECUTIVE POSITIONDO YOU HAVE ASPIRATIONS TO ADVANCETO AN EXECUTIVE POSITION?(BY GENERATION AND REGION) 08 AMERICAS YES Baby Boomers 71% 26% 29%Almost three-quarters of respondents (72 percent) say 82% 28%they aspire to an executive position. 36% 76% 26% 22% Generation XGen Y is more ambitious than their older colleagues. 53% 22%Some 80 percent of Gen Y aspire to an executive role,significantly higher than Gen X (72 percent) and Baby APACBoomers (54 percent). Generation Y 84% NOGlobally, respondents in APAC (84 percent) are 90% 62%significantly more enthusiastic about an executive 82% all generations 63%position than those in the Americas (71 percent) and 57% All Generations Generation YEMEA (67 percent). 62% Generation X 62% EMEA Baby boomers 67% 72% DONT KNOW 66% 11% 54% 9% 11% ALL COUNTRIES 72% 16% 80% 72% 54%12
  13. : The Evolving WorkforceREASONS FOR AVOIDING EXECUTIVE ROLESIF YOU DO NOT ASPIRE TO AN EXECUTIVEROLE, WHY NOT?(BY GENERATION) 09 don’t want the pressure/stress 25%Lifestyle factors are the main reasons people give as to 23%why they wouldn’t want to take on an executive role. 23% 30%When asked to rank the reasons, 25 percent of would impact work-life balancerespondents say they don’t want the pressure or stress; 25%a further 25 percent say it would impact their work-life 22%balance; 20 percent say they don’t have the skills or 28%education; 17 percent don’t have the ambition; and 9 24%percent cite other reasons. inadequate skills/education 20%The lifestyle factors (pressure/stress and work-life 23% all generationsbalance) are more pronounced among Baby Boomers, 21% Generation Ywhere 54 percent cite them for avoiding an executive 17%role. By contrast they are named by 51 percent of Gen Generation X don’t have the ambitionX and 45 percent of Gen Y. Baby boomers 17% 21%The issues of pressure and stress are most acute among 18%Baby Boomers, while work-life balance is felt most by 13%Gen X. other 9%Concern about inadequate skills or education is most 8%pronounced among Gen Y, as is the view that they lack 8%the ambition for an executive role. 12% no response 2% 2% 2% 3%13
  14. : The Evolving WorkforceREASONS FOR AVOIDING EXECUTIVE ROLESIF YOU DO NOT ASPIRE TO AN EXECUTIVEROLE, WHY NOT?(BY REGION) 10 don’t want the pressure/stress 25%Lifestyle issues are the main reasons for shunning 29%executive roles in both APAC and the Americas, but in 21%EMEA the main reason is lack of ambition. 34% would impact work-life balanceIn both the Americas and APAC, a total of 64 percent 25%cite pressure/stress and the impact on work-life 35%balance as the reasons for avoiding executive 19%positions. By contrast, in EMEA, just 40 percent cite 30%these lifestyle factors. inadequate skills/education 20%A total of 27 percent of EMEA respondents say 17% all countriesthey don’t have the ambition for an executive role, 24% APACcompared with just 9 percent in APAC and 5 percent 18% EMEAin the Americas. don’t have the ambition Americas 17%Also in EMEA, almost one-quarter (24 percent) say 9%they don’t have the education or skills to perform an 27%executive function—higher than in both the Americas 5%(18 percent) and APAC (17 percent). other 9% 8% 7% 11% no response 2% 2% 2% 2%14
  15. : The Evolving WorkforceBEST INDICATOR OF TALENTIN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHENLOOKING FOR A JOB, WHAT IS THEBEST INDICATOR OF YOUR TALENT TO 11 WORK EXPERIENCEA PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER? 61% 29%(BY GENERATION) 52% 36% 66%The majority of respondents (61 percent) say 22% 69%that when looking for a job, the best indicatorof a person’s talent is their work experience,followed by their performance in a job interview INTERVIEW(23 percent), job references (9 percent), and 23%education (7 percent). 28%The pattern is generally consistent across 20% all generationsall generations, but the relevance of work 19% Generation Yexperience as an indicator of talent is greater Generation Xwith older workers. Younger workers place REFERENCES Baby boomersslightly greater emphasis on education. 9% 10% 9% 8% EDUCATION 7% 10% 5% 4%15
  16. : The Evolving WorkforceBEST INDICATOR OF TALENTIN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHEN LOOKINGFOR A JOB, WHAT IS THE BESTINDICATOR OF YOUR TALENT TO A 12 WORK EXPERIENCEPROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER? 61% 29%(BY REGION) 64% 36% 59%Across all regions, work experience is considered 22% 63%the best indicator of talent in the eyes of thoseseeking work. INTERVIEWThere is greater emphasis on work experience as 23%an indicator of talent in APAC (64 percent) and the 21%Americas (63 percent), than in EMEA (59 percent). 24% all countriesRespondents in EMEA tend to place slightly greater 22% APACimportance on job interviews and references than EMEAthose in other parts of the world. REFERENCES AMERICAS 9% 8% 10% 8% EDUCATION 7% 6% 7% 7%16
  17. : The Evolving WorkforceconclusionGeneration YThe evolution of the modern workforce into a more do not foresee an executive role, there are a range ofdynamic and flexible entity is being embodied in the factors cited: lack of education or skills, impact on work-attitudes of Gen Y workers who are uniquely adapting life balance, concerns about pressure and stress, andto the changing world of work and careers. lack of ambition.No less than 58 percent of Gen Y plan to switch When it comes to career progression, all generationscareers within the next five years. The reasons are indicate that experience has been more important thanboth to boost their income and to align their work with education. However, it is interesting to note that forchanging personal interests. Gen Y, education is both more recent and somewhat more important.There is a high degree of confidence in their ability tochange careers or take a break from work and return at Like older generations, they share the view thata similar level of pay and seniority. experience is the best indicator of talent in a prospective employee.When looking to the future, Gen Y is notably ambitiousabout moving into executive roles. Some 80 percent Of all the generations, Gen Y places the highestaspire to senior management positions—a higher rate priority on developing and enhancing skills, with 64than for both Gen X and Baby Boomers. For those who percent saying it is extremely important for their career progression.17
  18. : The Evolving WorkforceconclusionGeneration xAs they settle into the mid-term of their careers, GenX is experiencing something of an awakening. In linewith their younger counterparts, 58 percent of Gen Xanticipates being required to change their career orfield of work within five years. For Gen X, it’s not justthe need for more income, but also a broader range oflifestyle issues that will drive this career shift.They also predominantly hold a belief that they canchange their careers and take a break for maternal/paternal leave, or even for an extended holiday, andreturn to their jobs without significant setback.Some 72 percent are aiming for executive roles—slightly less than Gen Y, but greater than BabyBoomers. For those Gen X members who don’t want anexecutive position, the main reason cited is the adverseimpact on work-life balance.For Gen X, experience has been a more dominatingfactor over career progression than education,and Gen X believes more strongly than Gen Y thatjob experience is the best indicator of talent in aprospective employee.18
  19. : The Evolving Workforceconclusionbaby boomersAlthough they are in the twilight of their careers,a significant share of Baby Boomers (50 percent)anticipate having to change careers within the nextfive years.The difference with Baby Boomers is the reasonsgiven—concerns about income are relatively lower,lifestyle factors weigh heavily, and there are alsoconcerns that their industries are in decline.Far fewer Baby Boomers aspire to executive positions,and the reasons predominantly relate to how suchroles would impinge on lifestyle.Baby Boomers overwhelmingly believe that theirexperience—rather than education—has shapedtheir careers, and they have no doubt that jobexperience remains the best guide to talent inprospective employees.And even with retirement looming for many BabyBoomers, more than half say that ongoing skillsdevelopment is essential to their careers.19
  20. : The Evolving WorkforceconclusionDRIVERS OF CAREER CHOICE AND CAREERPROGRESSION WRAP UPThe latest Kelly Global Workforce Index demonstrates a It’s clear that there are fundamental generationaldegree of instability that characterizes many sectors of differences toward issues such as work, career, andthe global workforce. the way individual talent is measured and assessed by organizations.Significant numbers of individuals are actively preparingfor the likelihood that they will be forced—by economic The findings underline the degree of volatility thatcircumstances or personal life choices—to change their prevails in the global workplace, where structuralentire career focus within a relatively short time frame. shifts in the world economy and changing generational dynamics are combining to reshape the way thatSuch a wholesale career shift represents a dramatic individuals view their work and careers.response to changing demographic, cultural, andstructural changes in the global economy.The forces that are driving these shifts are having thegreatest impact on younger Gen Y and Gen X workers,and presumably on the emergent Gen Z, which is onlynow entering the workforce.20
  21. About the Kelly Global Workforce Index™The Kelly Global Workforce Index is an annual survey revealing opinions about workand the workplace from a generational viewpoint. Approximately 97,000 people fromthe Americas, APAC and EMEA responded to the 2011 survey with results publishedon a quarterly basis. Kelly Services was the recipient of a MarCom Platinum Awardin 2010 and a Gold Award in 2009 for the Kelly Global Workforce Index in theResearch/Study category. About Kelly Services®Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: KELYA, KELYB) is a leader in providing workforce solutions.Kelly® offers a comprehensive array of outsourcing and consulting services as well asworld-class staffing on a temporary, temporary-to-hire and direct-hire basis. Servingclients around the globe, Kelly provides employment to more than 530,000 employeesannually. Revenue in 2010 was $5 billion. Visit and connect withus on Facebook®, LinkedIn®, and Twitter®.A Kelly Services ReportAll trademarks are property of their respective owners. An Equal Opportunity Employer © 2011 Kelly Services, Inc.