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It's not you, it's me

By Jim Bright
MyCareer - The Bright Side

Workers are optimistic jobs are available, writes Jim Bright.

Are you worried you might lose your job in the next year? If so, it seems you are in a minority. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics August quarterly labour force statistics, less than 1.5 per cent of workers expect to leave involuntarily in the next 12 months. Given the rhetoric and media coverage around job losses, this low number suggests we have been at the happy pills, overdone the positive psychology, or perhaps there is a lot more job security out there than commonly reported.

Part-time workers do not seem to be any less confident about job security compared with full-time workers, with between 1.3 per cent and 1.5 per cent of men and women, both part-timers and full-timers, thinking they'll lose their jobs involuntarily.

There does, however, seem to be a marked difference between men and women when it comes to leaving employers voluntarily. While about 5.5 per cent of both sexes are planning to leave their full-time roles with their employer, a shade less than 10 per cent of women are thinking of leaving their part-time roles. For men, the figure jumps to more than 15 per cent expecting to leave their part-time employer in the next year.

So why are men in part-time roles 55 per cent more likely than women to be planning on leaving in the next year? Why is it that 30 per cent of men in part-time roles have been in them for less than 12 months, compared with only 22 per cent of women?

Perhaps it has to do with mobility. Perhaps the lower figure for women reflects a balancing act with child-care responsibilities. Moving roles may represent a greater risk and more upheaval, or there may be fewer alternatives that fit around primary care responsibilities.

Five times as many employees expect to leave their employer voluntarily compared with those who think they'll have no choice. In total, about 1 million workers think they'll be on the move in the next 12 months. Note, this counts only those who reckon they'll be changing employers and does not take into consideration those who will move up, down or sideways with the same employer. That is a lot of people moving work. It is probably reasonable to estimate that twice as many people will make moves within the same organisation, meaning that perhaps up to 3 million or nearly 30 per cent of the workforce move every year.

Compared with the previous quarter's results, there was a slight drop in the numbers expecting to leave their employer voluntarily or otherwise. At the least this doesn't seem to suggest there is any rising anxiety about job security.

The overall picture from these statistics is of a confident workforce, at least when it comes to believing they'll be in the same role for the next year. However, if that is true, what does it say about the story from the retail sector, that insecurity is keeping us out of shopping malls?

It also doesn't seem consistent with the increasingly gloomy commentary about our more general economic prospects. A few bad headlines about drops in iron-ore prices and China tightening its economic belt send us into a tailspin of despair for our economy.

Perhaps we are getting complacent; perhaps we feel that having weathered the global financial crisis largely intact, our jobs and businesses are relatively bulletproof. Whether thinking of moving jobs or not, it is never a bad idea to watch for opportunities, to maintain or develop our networks and to keep the CV up to date.

Jim Bright is professor of career education and development at ACU and a partner at Bright and Associates, a career management consultancy. Email opinion@jimbright.com. Follow @TheFactoryPod. 

Published: 29 September 2012


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