Age and education affect job changes, study finds

Published by  News Archive

On 6th Jul 2018

New research reveals that people are more likely to change jobs when they are younger and well educated, though not necessarily because they are more open to a new experience.

A team from ETH Zurich in Switzerland and the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK analysed and compared the effects of individual characteristics and the economic context on career mobility.

The researchers investigated what is more important for people to change their job - the current unemployment rate, their personal openness to new experiences, their age at the time of the job change, or their level of education.

They found that both individual characteristics and the labour market are factors in career mobility. The results, published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, show that people were more likely to change their organisations, industries, and occupations when they were younger, with the age effect being strongest.

Contrary to the researchers’ initial prediction, people’s openness to new experiences did not play a role in them wanting to change their jobs. However, higher levels of education and a lower unemployment rate were related to changing organisation, but unrelated to going into another occupation.

The results also showed that a good education was more important for employees to change into another industry than a positive situation in the labour market.

In recent decades, employees’ careers have changed significantly, with long-term employment with one organisation no longer the default career path.

Career mobility has important implications for organisations, for example in terms of their strategic HR management and their success in attracting and retaining talented staff. For employees, every successful job change potentially increases employability and future opportunities for advancing their career.

Study co-author Dr Dana Unger, a lecturer in organisational behaviour in UEA’s Norwich Business School, said: “Whether individuals make a career transition depends undoubtedly on a range of factors. Our findings have immediate practical implications by improving our understanding of opportunities and hindrances for different kinds of career mobility.

“Employees who aim to advance their careers by crossing organisational, industrial, or occupational boundaries may gain helpful insights about factors involved in these distinct types of mobility. For example, they might want to align the timing of their career advances with fluctuations in the labour market.

“For organisations, our results highlight the relevance of investing resources in career management programmes for employee retention. Investments in employees’ career opportunities might especially pay off in times of a favourable external labour market, when staff have many external options.

“Career counsellors could also use the insights about the relevance of different predictors of career mobility to help their clients successfully plan career moves.”

The researchers looked at different types of job changes to determine whether people are changing organisations, the industries they are working in, or even occupations. They surveyed 503 management programme alumni about their career histories dating back up to 44 years, level of education, and openness to new experiences.

They also investigated the effect of yearly changes in the unemployment rate on mobility to address the economic context in which careers unfold.

‘When do employees cross boundaries? Individual and contextual determinants of career mobility’, Angelika Kornblum, Dana Unger, and Gudela Grote, is published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology on July 6.

Latest News

  News
An Andean bear and her cubs stand on a fallen tree trunk.
18 Jan 2022

Saving species through genomics in megadiverse Colombia  

The world’s second-most megadiverse country stands to benefit in many ways through membership in the Earth Biogenome Project, according to research from UEA.

Read more >
  News
A child stares glumly at a plate of food
18 Jan 2022

Why children may be off their food after Covid

More children could be turning into ‘fussy eaters’ after a bout of Covid, according to smell experts at UEA.

Read more >
  News
Pen on a book
17 Jan 2022

New Centre for Contemporary Poetry to shine a light on marginalised poets

UEA is set to become the home of a new collection of archives amplifying the voices of poets from underrepresented groups in British and Irish literature, thanks...

Read more >
  News
A pregnant woman stands next to a window
17 Jan 2022

Helping new mums stay smoke free

UEA researchers are recruiting to a major new study to help new mums stay smoke free.

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
A pregnant woman stands next to a window
17 Jan 2022

Helping new mums stay smoke free

UEA researchers are recruiting to a major new study to help new mums stay smoke free.

Read more >
  News
11 Jan 2022

Norwich Business School joins highly acclaimed Small Business Charter

The accolade is in recognition of its expertise in supporting small businesses, student entrepreneurship, and the local economy, with Norwich Business School at...

Read more >
  News
A selection of fruits and vegetables representing a Mediterranean diet.
10 Jan 2022

Could a Mediterranean diet be key to prevent dementia?

UEA researchers are launching a study to see whether the beneficial effects of a Mediterranean diet could help prevent dementia.

Read more >
  News
A woman at an outdoor group exercise class stretches her arms
07 Jan 2022

How exercise interventions could help people with asthma

Interventions aimed at promoting physical activity in people with asthma could improve their symptoms and quality of life – according to new UEA research.

Read more >
  News
Photograph of the US research ship Nathaniel B Palmer at the ice front of Thwaites Glacier
05 Jan 2022

UEA scientists lead new mission to Antarctica’s remote Thwaites Glacier

On the 100th anniversary of the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s death, a research mission using a fleet of underwater robots to determine the impact of...

Read more >
  News
A man wears a headset device designed to help diagnose dizziness.
22 Dec 2021

£1.25 million funding boost for dizziness device

UEA researchers have been awarded £1.25 million to develop a device to help people with dizziness.

Read more >