Generation X workers are as ambitious as their millennial counterparts

More than a third of Generation X workers are seeking university-level education or professional qualification in the next 24 months.

With the spotlight often shining on the generation of ‘millennials’, the workplace trends of Generation X are often overlooked. New research released from Management Today, together with Vauxhall Motors, reveals the career ambitions, the opportunities and challenges, of the 40 something generation. Launching its new Insignia Grand Sport, Vauxhall Motors’ flagship vehicle, the research shows Gen X also adopting the freedoms of millennials to job hop, switch careers, launch businesses and to study. The rise of Every-Age Entrepreneurs, Knowmads, Slash Careers and the Career Cycle proves that 40 somethings are just as hungry as their younger counterparts.

Every-age entrepreneurs

The findings show almost half of this generation plan to start their own business in the next ten years, with a huge 70 per cent looking for a ‘major change’. Supported by other surveys, the age for starting a business is not mid 20’s, but mid 40s’. Often with a family to support, Gen-X professionals believe owning a business will bring freedom and flexibility into their lives, with the main motivations being doing interesting work (52 per cent), being your own boss (61 per cent) and being challenged (49 per cent). The valuable combination of financial security and business experience gives this generation the opportunity to design the next chapter of their career.

Death of the traditional career path

Capable and curious to explore all avenues, the findings show that Gen-Xers have itchy feet and are no longer following a career ‘path’, but rather embracing an ongoing and ever-evolving career ‘cycle’. With more than half (56 per cent) of older professionals believing a job for life culture stifles development, it’s no surprise that more than one in five are planning to change careers in the next two years, with 20 per cent planning to move sectors altogether.

When looking at the driving force behind changing careers, the research reveals job satisfaction (66 per cent); a better work life balance (60 per cent); reward packages (50 per cent) and flexible working hours (42 per cent) are the most important factors for 40-somethings – a clear indication they are working to live, not living to work.

A generation of Knowmads

With employers demanding diverse skill-sets in this increasingly competitive market, Gen-X are acutely aware how crucial it is to stay informed and more importantly, to stay relevant in the workplace. Eternal students at heart, the research reveals that 36 per cent are seeking a university level education or professional qualification in the next 24 months, with 43 per cent wanting the opportunity to learn and grow in their next career.

Slash careers

With digital technology driving the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, the research found that Gen-X are turning their personal passions into viable career paths. A third of 40-somethings have a hobby that they intend to earn a second income from, with seven per cent already doing so. More than 60 per cent of Gen-X are legally allowed to earn a second income, and when asked about the benefit of turning a hobby into a second income, 23 per cent said this would be to eventually turn the hobby into a full-time career – reaffirming the trend of doing what you love, and loving what you do.

Denis Chick, director of communications at Vauxhall Motors, says, ‘As the Insignia Grand Sport sees more business than most cars in the country, we felt, together with Management Today, well positioned to take a closer look at the UK’s changing work landscape. Aiming to uncover the key trends and opportunities for older professionals, it’s great to see such strong findings that really do prove that the world is your oyster, whatever the age.’

Ian Wylie, special projects editor at Management Today, says, ‘We are excited to have collaborated with Vauxhall Motors on this important research, a unique study and a first for Management Today. Lifting the lid on the career aspirations and concerns of Gen X workers, our findings suggest that this is a generation on the move, ready to make bold choices and grasp new opportunities. What’s more, we’ve identified ’40 over 40’ – 40 aspirational people who embody the trends we’ve identified – role models for starting new ventures, accelerating up the corporate ladder and taking radical career left-turns to make nonsense of the idea that 40 is past your prime.’

Further reading on Generation X

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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