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70% of Generation X looking for major career change, research finds

With the spotlight often shining on the generation of ‘millennials’, the workplace trends of Generation X are often overlooked. New research released from Management Today, together with Vauxhall Motors, reveals the career ambitions, the opportunities and challenges, of the 40-something generation.


Launching its new Insignia Grand Sport, Vauxhall Motors’ flagship vehicle, the research shows Gen X also adopting the freedoms of millennials to job hop, switch careers, launch businesses and to study. The rise of Every-Age Entrepreneurs, Knowmads, Slash Careers and the Career Cycle proves that Gen X are just as hungry as their younger counterparts.


The findings show almost half of this generation plan to start their own business in the next 10 years, with 70% looking for a “major change”. Supported by other surveys, the age for starting a business is not mid-20s, but mid-40s. Often with a family to support, Gen-X professionals believe owning a business will bring freedom and flexibility into their lives, with the main motivations being doing interesting work (52%), being your own boss (61%) and being challenged (49%). The valuable combination of financial security and business experience gives this generation the opportunity to design the next chapter of their career.


Capable and curious to explore all avenues, the findings show that Gen-Xers have itchy feet and are no longer following a career ‘path’, but rather embracing an ongoing and ever-evolving career ‘cycle’. With over half (56%) of older professionals believing a job for life culture stifles development, it’s no surprise that more than one in five are planning to change careers in the next two years, with 20% planning to move sectors altogether.


When looking at the driving force behind changing careers, the research reveals job satisfaction (66%); a better work life balance (60%); reward packages (50%) and flexible working hours (42%) are the most important factors for 40-somethings – a clear indication they are working to live, not living to work.


With employers demanding diverse skillsets in this increasingly competitive market, Gen-X are acutely aware how crucial it is to stay informed and more importantly, to stay relevant in the workplace. Eternal students at heart, the research reveals that 36% are seeking a university level education or professional qualification in the next 24 months, with 43% wanting the opportunity to learn and grow in their next career.


With digital technology driving the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the research found that Gen-X are turning their personal passions into viable career paths. A third of 40-somethings have a hobby that they intend to earn a second income from, with 7% already doing so. Over 60% of Gen-X are legally allowed to earn a second income, and when asked about the benefit of turning a hobby into a second income, 23% said this would be to eventually turn the hobby into a full-time career – reaffirming the trend of doing what you love, and loving what you do.


Denis Chick, director of communications at Vauxhall Motors, said, “As the Insignia Grand Sport sees more business than most cars in the country, we felt, together with Management Today, well positioned to take a closer look at the UK’s changing work landscape. Aiming to uncover the key trends and opportunities for older professionals, it’s great to see such strong findings that really do prove that the world is your oyster, whatever the age”.


Ian Wylie, special projects editor at Management Today, commented, “We are excited to have collaborated with Vauxhall Motors on this important research, a unique study and a first for Management Today. Lifting the lid on the career aspirations and concerns of Gen X workers, our findings suggest that this is a generation on the move, ready to make bold choices and grasp new opportunities. What’s more, we’ve identified ’40 over 40’ – 40 aspirational people who embody the trends we’ve identified - role models for starting new ventures, accelerating up the corporate ladder and taking radical career left-turns to make nonsense of the idea that 40 is past your prime.”


Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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