1 in 5 Workers in Wrong Job

Research from the Skills Commission reveals that 21% of Britain’s workers are in a job that does not make the best use of their skills.

A further 41% of workers say they have had a previous job that has not made the best use of their skillsets.

The news comes ahead of the publication of the Skills Commission’s info, advice & guidance inquiry and reveals a vital need for good long-term careers advice in the UK.

Weighing up the figures for workers being in a job that does not utilise their skills amounts to an average of 4 years and 10 months wasted.

Only 4% of workers who escaped such a job relied on formal careers advice to get their next role, whilst 59% of workers still in the wrong role believe good careers advice would help them get a more suitable job. 47% of workers in the general working population feel that good careers advice would help to improve their career prospects.

Other statistics gleaned from the survey indicate that:

  • 65% of all people have, at some time in their life, received formal careers advice.
  • of 18-24 year olds, the percentage that have received careers advice from institutions is:
    • 27% from Connexions
    • 15% from Jobcentre Plus
    • 63% from College or University
  • Of all adults:
    • 6% of people have received careers advice from Learndirect
    • 13% have had advice from Jobcentre Plus
    • 41% from college or uni

Commenting on how useful workers found their career advice to be:

  • 66% found this formal advice very or fairly useful,
  • 7% said it was not useful at all.

As for the alternative sources of informal advice the findings showed:

  • 41% – friends (76% of 18-24 year olds)
  • 37% -the internet (61% of 18-24s)
  • 32% – parents (70%of 18-24s)
  • 25% – other family members (47% of 18-24s)

The findings show that Brits feel dissatisfied with their work, their skills are underutilised and theat there is a massive need for high quality formal careers advice.

Chair of the Skills Commission’s inquiry, Professor Michael Thorne, said:

“In the new world order, informal sources of advice from social networking sites, mentors and employers will become increasingly important.  These results highlight how essential a mix of formal and informal sources of advice are to the public.”


All the figures are from a YouGov Plc online survey of 2087 working adults between 11th and 13th March 2008. The figures have been weighted to represent all British adults aged 18+.

At the time of publication there are 44,020,057 adults aged 18+ in the UK. Some 27,292,435 (62%) have been in or are still in a job that does not best utilise their skills.

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