02 February 2017

  • Three quarters of UK employees reveal that they have had multiple careers.
  • By the time we pass the age of 50, more than half (55%) of UK workers have had at least three careers

A life-long career is fast becoming a thing of the past, as three quarters of UK employees reveal that they are choosing to re-invent themselves multiple times in different professions.

As a national provider of later life products and services, the Co-op has today released figures which show that a third of the UK’s workforce are on their second career, with a further 38% saying they have already had three or more careers.*

The Co-op surveyed people in full and part-time work about their employment history, and found that by the time we pass the age of 50, more than half (55%) of UK workers have had at least three careers, and as many as 16% of workers have switched occupations after turning 45.

When questioned about the reasons why they move from job to job, those surveyed in the over 50s category labelled redundancy as the most common reason for a change in career, with over a fifth (22%) stating this was the trigger.

Other reasons included:

  • 15% were bored in their existing career and were ready for change
  • 15% wanted to do something that interested them personally as well as professionally
  • Only 9% wanted to earn more

It seems that, as people progress in their careers, they are far more interested in whether or not they enjoy the work they do and find it engaging, rather than focussing on financial gain. The figures also revealed that the average expected age for retirement of UK working adults is now 64.

As people are living longer with a later expected age of retirement, it’s possible people are changing careers to reinvigorate their working life. This was reflected in the fact that 10% over 50s don’t think they will ever be in a position financially to retire. In addition to this, 10% of over 50s also said that they needed a role that would allow them to work flexibly. Interestingly, the figures also showed that over 50s are much more likely to have had their ability to meet career goals impacted by the need to care for families.

Commenting on the figures, Jenny Atkinson Head of HR for Co-op Funeralcare commented: “As we’re living longer, our work is playing an increasingly dominant role in our lives. With some having entered the workplace at 16, and our data showing the new expected retirement age to be 64, this means many people will have been working for almost 50 years.

“At the Co-op, we’re passionate about promoting a ‘life well lived’, and helping people to consider how they can get the most enjoyment out of their work. Switching careers and re-training is a way of keeping your mind active, which is why we offer our Apprenticeships scheme in Funeralcare to people of all ages and with a variety of previous careers.

“Over the years, we’ve retrained everyone from ex-air hostesses to former policemen and councillors. Our oldest apprentice, Robert Brown, started his training at the age of 67.”

Further statistics revealed that 13% of over 50s feel that they haven’t yet achieved their career goals, while 45% of UK workers who haven’t achieved their career goals after the age of 50, don’t feel that they ever will.

The most common reasons over 50s cite for not meeting their career goals are:

  • 37% feel opportunities are limited for people of their age
  • 35% feel opportunities in their industry are limited
  • 16% feel the need to work flexibly to care for grandchildren
  • 14% feel the need to work flexibly to care for elderly parents

Steve Morris, UK Sales and Marketing Director for learndirect, added: “It’s fantastic that this new research has revealed that people are looking for a more varied working life.

“It’s never too late to re-train, and people who are thinking about switching careers should remember that they have many transferable skills that would lend themselves to a variety of other positions.”



*Research was conducted among 1,200 UK adults with ICM Unlimited research

For further information please contact:

Caroline Canty: caroline.canty@coop.co.uk / 07834 446709

Lauren Hoult: lauren.hoult@coop.co.uk / 07702 505626

About the Co-op

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives and has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of over £9 billion.

Home to the UK’s leading funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare, and a leading legal services business, Co-op is also a national provider of later life products and services ranging from funeral plans, through to wills and probate.