From job seekers to career movers, what will employees prioritise in 2021?

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Increased pay is emerging as the number one reason for changing careers or jobs in 2021, with almost half of workers, or 6 million Australians, considering a role or career shift during the past twelve months, according to our recent study.

Australian workers say reskilling and upskilling are the clearest ways to secure their financial future but cite cost as the largest barrier.

These are just some of the findings contained in our latest PERSOLKELLY and Programmed report, looking into how employees will prioritise their careers in 2021.

Our research tells us it’s careers and purpose more than COVID-19 that is prompting people to reconsider their lives, especially young people,” said Nic Fairbank, CEO, Programmed Skilled Workforce, Programmed Training Services, PERSOLKELLY.

Of those considering a career or role change, over 25 per cent say pay and financial security is the main reason to consider a switch. Unsatisfactory work conditions, perhaps disrupted or amplified by the pandemic, came in second with 23.0 per cent.

Less than 10 per cent of working Australians considering a move think COVID-19 itself was the reason. However, the majority of all workers (53.7 per cent) think the pandemic has changed the way they viewed their jobs.

  • Increased pay is emerging as the number one reason for changing careers or jobs in 2021, with almost half of workers considering a role or career shift during the past twelve months.
  • Our data shows reskilling and upskilling are the clearest ways to secure a financial future, but cost is cited as the largest barrier.
  • Of those considering a career or role change, over 25 per cent say pay and financial security is the main reason to consider a switch. Unsatisfactory work conditions, perhaps disrupted or amplified by the pandemic, came in second with 23.0 per cent.

When looking at different industries, mining, construction/infrastructure, and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) have the largest number of workers considering changing careers or roles, though most plan to stay within the same industry.

Of those considering a change, 18-24-year-olds were the largest group most likely to look elsewhere, with half of that group aiming to stay in the same industry.

While pay was Australians’ most cited reason for wanting to switch jobs, Victoria saw the highest level of respondents citing COVID-19 (11.6 per cent), followed by New Zealand (9.8 per cent) – both regions impacted by severe lockdowns.

Those looking to change industries are eyeing a move towards Professional Services, which includes roles in administration, business support, accounting, technical professions, sales, marketing, and human resources.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the Health sector also rank highly, as healthcare labour and digital specialists across different categories are in high demand.

“Transitioning to the new economy means a skills evolution, not a revolution, to support industries that are growing but cannot get enough people, like healthcare and aged care,” said Mr. Fairbank.

Workers themselves are taking career changes into their own hands and are looking to upskill, reskill and conduct further study to progress their careers.

Close to one-third of Australian workers see growth as a key reason to consider upskilling or reskilling, while 27.3 per cent said it would progress their career. Up to 16 per cent said it was a job requirement. Download the full report at

What will employees prioritise in 2021?

Download the full report here


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Programmed is a leading provider of operations and maintenance services across Australia and New Zealand. Our business model is built around our ability to recruit, deploy, manage and maintain a large, directly employed workforce of professional, skilled and semi-skilled staff with a wide range of capabilities. We are proud to efficiently serve more than 10,000 customers every day.

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