A job for life? That’s so 50 years ago

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Di Spencer looks at some of the factors that have impacted a change in our attitude to careers.

 The ‘job for life’ is quickly becoming a thing of ancient legend. In a recent poll, the vast majority (71%) of Pf website visitors said that the pharma industry does not offer a career for life. The economic climate and a change in pharma’s business model have led to restructures and redundancies for the majority of companies, but reduced levels of job security have been a reality for most industries. Can we blame the recession, or is a more fundamental cultural shift at play here too?

It is certainly true that the UK job market is a fragile one and that the last few years have seen an all-time low in job security levels. Today, one in every three workers stay in the same job for less than two years (according to a report by analysts Mintel) and younger workers generally expect they will change their jobs more frequently than older workers. These changes are sometimes due to redundancy, but also due to people moving to further their careers.

It could be argued that the death of the ‘job for life’, which has probably been slowly on the way out since the Sixties, is partly a product of modern society in general. Driven by factors such as consumerism and the influence of the media, younger people are more ambitious and are switching jobs to earn more money, propel themselves up the career ladder or enjoy a better quality of life. Even the appeal of the ‘career for life’ has diminished, and young people expect to be able to switch careers should they wish to, depending on their circumstances. There seems to be greater freedom associated with careers, and people do not necessarily feel ‘tied down’ to a particular career path simply because they once pursued it or have trained for it.

Whether through desire or necessity, the ‘job for life’ has gone out of fashion.

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Contact the author: diana.spencer@healthpublishing.co.uk