Aussie careers no longer a fixed path as life long learning provides opportunities for change

With exams now over for Year 12s across Australia, graduates and school leavers will be feeling the pressure to decide what line of work they’re going to pursue, or what tertiary study they’ll apply for to set up their career.

But as new research from SEEK reveals, this decision does not need to dictate the next 40 years of work life, as one career for a lifetime is no longer the norm.

In fact, 65 per cent of Australians are now working in a different job or career than they set out on when they finished school1, which shows career diversification is now standard. The research also shows women are more likely to move to different jobs or careers, with almost 72 per cent working in a different career than intended when leaving secondary school, compared to just 59 per cent of men.

The pressure for eighteen-year-olds to define their career must ease, said Managing Director of SEEK Employment, Michael Ilczynski.

“Aussies, particularly parents, need to wrap their heads around the concept that having many jobs and careers is not a sign of their child’s inability to settle down, or make up their mind. It certainly doesn’t give indication to the likelihood of their career success. Businesses value innovative and fresh thinking, having a broad base of experience equips us with this capability.

Businesses are realising career-change can be a positive thing, as people with experience across many roles and industries often have a wider knowledge set and diversity in thinking which brings a whole new perspective to the workplace.

By working in a range of organisations across a range of industries, workers gain experience with diverse tools and technologies, and new industry and business disciplines. This provides the opportunity to develop a highly valued skill set of responsiveness, agility and resilience.

“It is these types of non-technical skills that are particularly appealing to employers,” Mr Ilczynski said.

As the industries and economies we work in evolve, we must develop the skills to evolve with it, according to SEEK Learning Managing Director Joe Powell.

“Life-long learning plays an important role in setting Aussie workers up for a healthy and satisfying career.”

For many, learning doesn’t stop at graduation, with more than 52 per cent of Aussies continuing to upskill throughout their career.

“The types of skills and capabilities you can pick up from educational institutions or on-the-job training can be equally as valuable, depending on what students are looking for from a career,” Mr Powell said.

“My advice to parents is encourage your child to make the most of each workplace they enter in, even if it may not be their dream job. It is through turning up to work highly engaged, asking questions and putting their hand up to take on new responsibilities and opportunities that they’ll understand their strengths and weaknesses and gain those important skills. It is this attitude that will set them up for good career opportunities as they progress,” Mr Ilczynski said.

1Source: Independent research conducted by Survey Sampling International (SS)I on behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4800 Australians annually with data being weighted to be nationally representative of age, gender, location, employment status and income (based on ABS).