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Canadians feel ill-prepared for career change: survey

November 17, 2016

A new survey sponsored by Royal Roads University reveals almost half of all employed Canadians anticipate making a career change within the next five years, but many feel their existing skill set leaves them ill-prepared for it.

“Gone are the days of getting an education to secure you in one life-long career,” said Catherine Riggins, Associate Vice President, Marketing and Alumni Relations at Royal Roads University (RRU). “Canadians clearly understand the reality that they will have many careers throughout the course of their working lives – and the importance of life-long learning in maximizing opportunities. The challenge lies in ensuring they are equipped to make those changes.”

RRU’s Career Confidence Survey – a national poll of more than 1,000 employed Canadians conducted by Ipsos – found 45 per cent expect to make a job or career change in the next five years. A similar number of Millennials expect it to happen within the next 12 months.

But with that change on the horizon, almost one in three report they don’t feel prepared for it, based on their current skill set and transferable skills. Millennials – often considered the most tech-savvy – are the most worried (one in four) that their current skill set might prove no longer valuable to their employer.

Recognition of the importance of life-long learning is exceptionally high, with 87 per cent of respondents agreeing that it’s “crucial for career success.” However, the majority (61 per cent) do not anticipate furthering their education to upgrade current skills or to learn new ones.

“This reveals a disconnect between endorsing life-long learning as a concept, yet not being prepared to actually commit to it and enroll in a new skills development course,” Riggins said. “Royal Roads wants to shift this mindset, and prepare people for success by teaching them how to become life-learners, wherever they’re at in their lives and whatever their age.”

Riggins says Royal Roads University sees first-hand evidence in its students of the life-changing benefits of continuing education and cultivating an evolving skillset.

“I’m living proof, having started a master’s degree in communication at age 61,” said RRU alumnus Victor Hayes. “It enabled me to keep pace with the changing landscape within my career field and remain valuable,” Hayes said.


The survey also revealed sizeable concern – particularly among Millennials – about losing their jobs due to a downturn in the economy. Forty-three percent of Millennials (age 18-34) are worried about losing their jobs if the economy falters, versus 35 per cent among employed Canadians overall.

Regionally, the concern was highest in Alberta (48 per cent) and lowest in British Columbia (25 per cent).

“Once again we see people concerned about their security in a soft economy, which in turn reinforces the value proposition life-long learning offers,” Riggins said. “RRU teaches students to embrace change and use it to keep pushing oneself forward in their career, but also their life. In today’s quickly shifting career landscape, the key is to learn how to be a life-learner…and then not stop.”

This drive to keep learning, inspiring, connecting, cultivating and persevering is at the core of the new campaign from RRU called “Don’t Stop”, designed to promote the notion that there is always room for growth, whether through a formal education, in the workplace or even an inspiring encounter.



The Ipsos poll was conducted between October 25 and October 26, 2016, on behalf of Royal Roads University. For this survey, a sample of 1,004 employed Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. The poll is accurate to within +/ - 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.