Gone are the days when people stayed with the same company for the majority of their career. Younger generations now have an average job tenure of a little over three years; according to recent studies by Skillsroad, Australia’s leading youth and careers platform, young people are more likely to pursue a higher salary than a lower-paying job in a field they enjoy.
“The fact that young people are ranking pay as the most important consideration when applying for a job shows that young people are likely to prioritise money over career paths that they’re genuinely passionate about, increasing the chances of them ending up in a career they don’t enjoy and impacting their confidence and resilience,” Darren Cocks, managing director of Apprenticeship Support Australia (ASA), says.
Though the high turnover rate may work well for employees who are constantly seeking something new and different, it can be a burden even for larger companies. When a competent employee resigns, it can cost a significant amount to hire a new person and train them to the same standard.
The Skillsroad study revealed that 52.3 per cent of school-age children still have plans to attend university, even though they worry that it could lead to financial hardship, and even though they believe that they may not be able to acquire a job in their chosen sector.
Fewer than 16 per cent of school-age children are considering vocational education and training (VET) pathways such as apprenticeships and traineeships, even though VET students are more likely to secure a job than university graduates.
According to Cocks, if young people were to pursue careers that are “intrinsically important” to them, they’d be more likely to stay in a position for a longer period of time, take fewer sick days, and improve their overall wellbeing.
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What has changed so much from one generation to the next? Studying a trade used to be a matter of pride, but we’ve slowly started to see a shift where wealth and status that stems from white-collar work is often viewed as more important than the wealth that comes from hard labour.
While it’s natural for parents to want the best for their children and go on to “better” jobs and better educational opportunities, that doesn’t mean that every child is suited for it. Cocks advises that “pushing any one career pathway” is a mistake that we as a community make.
Not every person’s dream job will allow them to earn enough money to live comfortably and without any financial burden, but that doesn’t mean they should be encouraged to become a doctor or lawyer just because “that’s where the money is”. There are children starting preschool next year who will graduate and enter the workforce in jobs that don’t even exist yet, so pushing conventional career paths upon them rather than making extra effort to understand a new job market may not be beneficial.
“We need to enable young people to make informed career choices by making a greater investment in educating students on all career pathways, their suitability to these, and how and where to pursue them to improve productivity and reduce employee turnover,” Cocks says.