Skip to content
    January 16, 2024

    Career Paths: The Changing Landscape

    Our grandparents grew up with a straightforward idea of what a career path was supposed to be. You got a college degree, started with a company, and worked your way up the ladder. Others may not have attended college. They went to work for the company their parents worked for, maybe manufacturing of some kind, and expected to have a stable career through retirement. But that is no longer the case. There are many reasons why the traditional career path has changed. But for everyone, those changes are impacting both the employees and the companies they work for.

    There are a growing number of young people who are choosing to not get a college education because of the cost. In real dollars, the cost of tuition for a four-year degree has increased more than 710% since 1983 (1,200% if you go back to 1980). The average college tuition and fees at four-year schools in 2021-2022 was $19,806. The average total cost for a year of college at a four-year school was around $36,000+. That number includes tuition and fees, on-campus room and board, books, supplies, and other expenses. That's roughly $146,000 to get a college degree. Younger people from middle-class and lower-middle-class families, do not want to start their adult work life with huge debt hanging over them. That means if companies are only recruiting on college campuses or only accepting applications from college graduates, they may be missing out on quality talent.

    For many of us, we will have, on average, 12 or more jobs throughout our careers. Younger employees, those under 30, are predicted to have even more. That can be challenging when trying to keep recruiting and turnover costs down. It can also be very stressful on a workforce if there is a constant turnover and few people with historical knowledge of a company.  

    For some employees, it’s a matter of them thinking it’s time to move on. It could be for better compensation, more opportunities to grow in their career, a desire to live in a different part of the country or world, feeling like what they were promised by the company hasn’t been fulfilled, or deciding on moving into a completely different industry. They also may be unhappy with their manager, which is one of the biggest reasons an employee will decide to leave an organization.  

    We are also in a world where the skills and experience a company needs in their workforce to succeed continue to change. That is happening faster because of technology and the speed of innovation.  

    All of this can be very challenging for HR and leadership. However, some companies are more innovative in attracting and retaining the employees they need.

    What Forward-Thinking Companies are Doing:

    • Rethinking educational requirements. Degree requirements have historically been used to gatekeep. They are recognizing that many roles that need to be filled don’t require a specific certification or degree in a particular area. This has led to a different approach to recruiting.
    • Benefits that help pay down college tuition debt. Companies doing this include Aetna, Estee Lauder, Fidelity Investments, and Hulu.  
    • Strong focus on competitive salary. Though it is nothing new in HR, making this a priority can help with retention, particularly for those who typically don’t have pay equity: women and employees from diverse backgrounds.
    • Targeted mentoring programs at all levels in the organization. Employees engaged in mentoring throughout an organization that leads to a better knowledge base, projects with increasing responsibility, and exposure to learning a wider variety of skills can help keep quality talent engaged.
    • Specific ongoing technology and innovations training.  
    • More job flexibility for those who would like to work remotely full or part-time.
    The one thing HR can count on is that there will continue to be change. Having a different perspective on career paths for your employees can help keep your workforce engaged and attract the talent your company needs.  


    Related Blog Posts

    View All Blog Posts