What is the difference between having a job and a career? In upskilling rather than reskilling? According to a new poll of American workers, perception – and perception matters when helping individuals seek employment and employment pathways.
Fifty percent of the 800 workers sampled in the new WorkingNation American Workers Survey reported that they believe they have a job as opposed to a career, but 72 percent of workers said they would rather have a career than a job. These findings align with conclusions drawn from UpSkill Houston’s own focus group research, and underscore why educators and career coaches or counselors should talk about particular jobs or job opportunities – particularly when speaking with students or young adults – in the context of growing a career: Having a job is good but having a career is better.
The survey teased out differences along age and educational lines – younger, less educated workers were far more likely to call their work a job (rather than a career) than their older, better educated counterparts. Black and Hispanic workers tended to see their work as a job while white workers were more likely to call their work a career.
“It’s really important to talk about that that concept of a career instead of just the job,” said WorkingNation President Jane Oates during an UpSkill Works Forum on survey takeaways held in this month. “We’ve been talking ‘career pathways’ for years, and it has resonated. People understand that they might have to take an entry-level job, but they want to build that career.”
Another important semantic distinction emerged during the discussion: The term “upskilling” has a much more positive connotation than the term “re-skilling.”
Said Oates: “We have heard from people that re-skilling gives you the feeling that something you already mastered is obsolete or unnecessary, whereas upskilling gives you the feeling that you can build on your accomplishments.”
The language we use to encourage students and workers to pursue new skills and opportunities is important. Focusing on the goal of building a career versus getting a job and leveraging the positive perception of upskilling will resonate.