L&WI article on the desire to change jobs with a lack of skills

Written by Learning & Work Institute

One in three adults say they want to change job, but most think they lack the skills to switch

Over a third of adults (34%) are looking to change job or career in the next two years, according to the latest results of the largest survey of adult participation in learning in the UK. Learning and Work Institute’s (L&W) survey finds that over two thirds (69%) of the people looking to switch say they will need to develop their skills to do so.

The survey finds the pandemic has had an impact on people wanting to switch jobs, with those with a change in job status since March 2020 more than twice as likely to want to change job or career compared to those who have not experienced any changes.

The structural labour market changes brought on by the pandemic are likely to continue and, when combined with longer working lives, are likely to mean people need to change jobs or careers a greater number of times.

Despite this, L&W’s Fast Forward report notes that the number of people switching careers has actually fallen since the global financial crisis. L&W’s adult participation in learning survey data seeks to understand what is preventing people changing careers and jobs despite such high numbers saying they want to do so.

The survey asked respondents what support would be most useful to change career, and a third of people surveyed would find learning or training helpful (31%). This was followed by a quarter who said they would find financial support towards the costs of learning or training helpful and a fifth requiring support with living costs.

People also want advice to help them choose the right job, training and help to get a job. The survey finds almost a quarter of adults don’t know what support would be helpful and 15% said they didn’t know where they would go for advice, pointing to the need for more proactive and better awareness of careers advice.

L&W’s New Futures project, going live in Spring 2022, aims to identify what works to retrain people who need to change career. The locally-driven pilots will run in five areas across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland until September 2023. This work will contribute to the debate and help identify solutions to the retraining challenge currently facing the UK.

The UK economy is recovering with record numbers of job vacancies; however, many workers will need support to retrain and upskill to respond to changes in the labour market. Our survey shows that those looking to change career believe they need to develop their skills to do so, and almost a quarter are unsure of the support needed to change job. These gaps highlight the challenge our pilots seek to address, through developing high quality, locally based career change support to ensure everyone can make the most of the opportunities ahead.

Emily Jones, Head of Research at Learning and Work Institute