CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JAN. 16, 2014
version 3, draft 3

40% of British Feel Their Career was a Mistake

According to a new study conducted by the Association of Accounting Technicians one third of British workers are currently employed in a profession which was not their primary career choice. Four in ten respondents admitted their choice of career was a mistake and a similar number thought they were completely wrong.

While an unhappy six in ten feel they could be in a better job and that they have wasted their potential, a quarter said the daily grind of ‘real life’ has stopped them chasing their desired route. That has led to a dead end feeling, with over half admitting they are ‘going nowhere’ and condemning a lack of opportunity and non-existent chances of progression in their chosen career.

Other interesting findings revealed by the study include:

  • 57% admit they put little thought into their career at an early age and wish they could have done things differently.
  • Less than a third of people actually chose their current job – four in ten ‘fell’ into their role and over a fifth said it was the only job available at the time.
  • 40% of respondents believe they are ‘too clever’ for their current job and that their talents are being wasted.

Unsurprisingly then over half the people surveyed argued they felt ‘stuck in a rut’ when it came to their career. But the biggest reasons for staying put were because of the desperate need of security, while a lack of confidence to change or the belief that there aren’t many jobs out there keep many firmly rooted

The Top 20 Most Common Factors of Work Unhappiness

Interestingly, the research showed that the average person is happy at work just over half of the time, with the average happiness score amounting to 54%.

The 20 most common-cited factors leading to work dissatisfaction are the following:

1. It is very stressful

2. I don’t get paid enough

3. There are no perks

4. I’m not stretched in my current role

5. There are no opportunities to progress

6. The boss never says thank you

7. I work long hours

8. The work environment isn’t very nice

9. I was destined for better things

10. I’m in completely the wrong profession

11. I’m expected to work a lot of overtime

12. I’m too intelligent

13. The commute is terrible

14. I never get a lunch break

15. The pension plan is awful

16. I don’t get on with colleagues

17. The boss is a slave driver

18. I’m constantly overlooked for promotions

19. I don’t care about the work

20. The company is understaffed

What Needs to be Done

Jane Scott Paul, Chief Executive, AAT, argues that the results are distressing since it has proven that people thrive in jobs that they find challenging and arousing and that offer real prospects of career progression.

Paul highlighted that lifelong learning is key to filling the skills gap. Those who are unhappy in their careers need to know that they are never too old to learn and employers need to adopt an effective approach that encourages lifelong learning. He also noted that ”we need to offer better independent career advice from a younger age so that young people understand how education and jobs are intertwined so they can make the right choices when it matters most”.

On the whole, early occupational orientation, intensive student placements in the world of work as well as investment in lifelong learning can help people shape an informed opinion on what occupation best suits them. Which in turn will lead to happier and more satisfied employees.

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