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The Career Ladder is dead – long live the ‘Career Web’

  • LifeSkills reveals that the traditional Career Ladder is dying out as Millennials navigate a ‘Career Web’ of multiple ‘sideways’ moves through industries, roles or sectors to gain their dream job
  • Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of Millennials have already worked in four or more industries, compared to the majority of 65+ year olds (59 per cent) who have worked in three industries over their entire career
  • Over 84 per cent of employers see the benefits of their employees having worked in multiple sectors and value their transferable skills  

New research released today from LifeSkills created with Barclays, reveals that the traditional Career Ladder is crumbling away, making way for the Career Web, as findings reveal nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of Millennials have already worked in four or more industries in their expanding careers.  This is in stark contrast to the majority of 65+ year olds (59 per cent) who have only worked in a maximum of three industries during their career.


The Career Web is seen as a new professional journey for those embarking on their careers, which allows them to explore different industries and sectors to broaden their skill sets and achieve their career goals. This new ‘web of work’ is highlighted by data showing the younger generation (18-24 year olds) have already moved three times on average during their working career, the same as the national average across all ages. 


If this were to continue throughout their career, they will have seven times as many job roles as their grandparents’ generation.  This clearly demonstrating the multiple sideways or diagonal moves they make, to take on new roles or change industries in order to progress or gain new skills more quickly.


According to the research, younger Millennials are moving jobs more frequently than their more experienced counterparts, with the average 18-24-year-old staying in a job less than four years, two years lower than the national average. What’s more, 10 per cent of under 24s reported that they were planning to stay in their roles for less than six months in order to seek new career opportunities and challenges.


Millennials are also far more likely to take a sideways move in their career, exploring different roles and sectors, with more than half of 18-24 year olds reporting to have done so.  The data showed that a quarter of those claim to have moved jobs to broaden their skillset and seek new challenges. These moves have been overwhelmingly positive, with almost three quarters (72 per cent) believing that moving jobs has helped them to get to where they are today and 71 per cent claiming to have gained transferable skills through changing jobs.


Driving this strategic job hopping is the fact that seven in ten (73 per cent) of 18-24 year olds believe in the idea of a ‘dream job’ compared to just 65 per cent of the over 55s. The new generation of workers are also more likely to adapt their career plan if their dream job changes, with over a third of those aged 18-24 claiming they would do this in comparison to just a quarter of 55-64 year olds.


Making sideways moves and strategic sector-swapping is looked upon favourably by potential employers with over a third seeing applicants with a broad experience as an advantage and 84 per cent believing those who have moved jobs or sectors will have gained more transferable skills. 


Director of LifeSkills, Kirstie Mackey said “In a fast evolving career landscape, it’s more important than ever that young people have the right skills to succeed in the work place.  Our research reveals the rapidly changing state of career progression in the UK; the Career Ladder is dead and young people now navigate a Career Web as they move through their professional lives. Economic, societal and technological forces mean the concept of a job for life no longer exists, there will be more freelance and global working and in fact, many of the jobs that young people of today will do in the future do not even currently exist.”    

“In light of this agile working structure it’s crucial that young people learn 21st century skills like resilience, problem-solving and networking to get the most out of their working life.”


LifeSkills Ambassador and business leader Karren Brady said: “I’m an example of someone whose career has transitioned from a traditional Career Ladder to a Career Web. I can honestly say that every step of the way through my career, I’ve learnt new skills, and brought invaluable experience from previous roles along with me to where I am today – and I’m always learning.

“The research from LifeSkills shows that the non-linear career path is becoming far more prevalent for the next generation. As an employer, I’m more interested in the skills and talent someone can bring to the role and having varied experience can be exceptionally valuable.

“It’s essential that young people get to grips with the 21st century skills employers like me are looking for today – transferrable skills like networking that will lead them on the path to success as they navigate their own career paths.”


LifeSkills Youth Advisory Council Member Lola Olaore said: As a recent graduate starting out in my career I’ve already been lucky enough to gain experience in banking, the charity sector and luxury retail. What’s more my role on the LifeSkills Youth Advisory Council has seen me running social action campaigns and networking events.  The journey to where I am today at a renowned technology firm hasn’t always been plain sailing but I can honestly say that through every experience I’ve gained skills such as how to be adaptable, flexible, creativity and leadership, all of which I use in my role today. With the traditional career ladder dying out and a more modern career web booming, it’s experiences like these that have helped me to develop the 21st century skills to really set me apart.  I have so many goals and ambitions to achieve in my work life, I’m really excited to see where my own Web of Work takes me next”


21st Century Skills are a set of key attributes, defined by LifeSkills, which employers are increasingly looking to see more of from workers in the ever-evolving workplace. These include being able to network and communicate successfully, showing the ability to be resilient, and take an innovative and creative approach to solving problems. LifeSkills offers a wide range of content, tools and advice to help young people learn and improve these skills to help the, succeed in the work place.


LifeSkills offers a huge range of resources for young people to help them kick start their career by developing the skills essential to move forward in today’s evolving workplace.  Find out more at

Notes to editors

About the research

Research carried out by Barclays, October 2016 by Mortar London with 2,000 respondents.


Press office contacts and supporting materials:

  • For more information, please contact Catherine Cuthbert, Barclays Media Relations/ 020 3134 6229 /
  • Interviews are available with Karren Brady, LifeSkills Ambassador and Kirstie Mackay, Director of LifeSkills
  • Case studies are available on request
  • The full research findings are available on request

About LifeSkills created with Barclays


Barclays is passionate and committed to supporting the creation of a strong talent pipeline of young people moving into the labour market who can achieve their aspirations, supporting organisations throughout the UK. By doing this we will help to address the significant societal issue of the skills gap and youth employment challenge, create a better future for young people, supporting our economy and society.


The motivation behind the LifeSkills programme is to inspire millions of young people and equip them with the key skills to move forward into the 21st century work place.  LifeSkills brings together educators, businesses, young people and parents to achieve this, as increasingly young people need to leave education not only with appropriate academic results but with the skills that we know businesses need now and in the future as technology reshapes our working world.


Educators, including schools, colleges, universities, charities and youth groups, are provided with more than 60 hours of free curriculum linked employability resources, through videos, quick fire activities, interactive tools and full lesson plans to teach young people, as well as dozens of interactive tools for young people to learn in their own time or in conjunction with their parents through our dedicated parents section. 


The programme focuses on three core modules; work skills, people skills and money skills.  Teaching skills such as CV writing, interview skills, networking, problem solving, creativity, resilience, communication and managing online reputation.


LifeSkills also provides free support to UK businesses to help improve access to work experience opportunities – giving young people the key skills and experience they need.

Already LifeSkills is raising the aspirations of young people as they feel more confident about the future and we are seeing evidence that young people are using what they have learnt to secure employment and manage their finances more effectively. More than 2.9 million young people have already participated in the programme.

About Barclays

Barclays is a transatlantic consumer, corporate and investment bank offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in our two home markets of the UK and the US.

With over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 40 countries and employs approximately 130,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.

For further information about Barclays, please visit our website .