Almost 1/3 of workers see degrees becoming less valuable

The concept of a career – let alone a job – for life could have all but disappeared within 25 years, replaced by workers pursuing a succession of different career paths and even “multi-jobbing”. This is according to research amongst current workers carried out by Office Angels, the leading office recruitment agency.

The survey found that one in four employees expects to be working for more than one employer at a time by the year 2036, thanks in large part to changing attitudes to flexitime and increased opportunities for remote working.

In addition, almost half (48%) think career progression will no longer be linear, and that people will pursue a series of different careers throughout their working lives, learning and developing new skills all the time, rather than working their way up the ladder in just one particular field.
The Office Angels study was conducted to celebrate its 25th anniversary and explores the likely evolution of working practices and culture within the UK over the next 25 years.

David Clubb, managing director of Office Angels, comments, “Whereas experience and loyalty were the core attributes in the ‘jobs for life’ era, what’s emerging from our research is that flexibility and adaptability are going to be valued increasingly highly over the next few decades, as the idea of a career takes on an entirely new shape.”

“That’s not to say that having the relevant skills and a sense of dedication to the job won’t be important, but companies and employees will have to find a new balance, just as they will have to manage the challenges as well as the opportunities that working more flexibly presents. The arrival of less rigid working practices could be a massive boost to innovation and responsiveness which are crucial in an ever more high-tech, globalised world. Clearly, the impact on quality and consistency of the goods or services the business provides will also need to be carefully considered.”

“We’re already seeing a rise in the number of ‘career temps’ attracted by the idea of a more diverse working life in which they can offer their skills and expertise to a range of different businesses. It will be interesting to see whether this forms a blueprint for more a widespread form of flexible working in the years ahead.”

The research suggests that such changes to working patterns could have profound implications for the way people study in the future: almost a third (32%) of respondents said that having a degree would be less valuable in 25 years’ time.

“With an evolving, rather than a firmly defined, career path in view, the importance of a degree as the foundation for the rest of your working life will in all likelihood be tempered by a greater emphasis on developing and updating your skills set regularly, so that learning becomes more of a continuous, on-going process than it is today,” says Clubb.