Three Ways Employers Can Attract Career-Changing Adults

How Prevalent are Career Changes? 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, more than half of working Americans were contemplating a career change1. Layer on top of that more than two years of a global pandemic that ushered in new opportunities to work from home, coupled with mounting pressures placed on frontline workers, and it’s no wonder that in 2022 even more working adults are seriously considering switching careers. And with a record number of job openings across nearly all business sectors, there are plenty of places to consider going. 

This could be good news and bad news for employers. On one hand, with so many high paying positions available in burgeoning industries like information technology, manufacturing technology, and health sciences, existing workers who upskill or reskill may be a staffing treasure trove. On the other hand, it could leave even more openings vacant in more entry-level positions as seasoned employees leave to pursue new opportunities. 

What Are Common Barriers to Career Changes? 

While new data suggests that about one third of Americans ages 25-44 have completely changed career fields at least once, making a wholesale career change is not an easy proposition2. Would-be career changers face many barriers: educational, financial, childcare, and time to just name a few. Many careers require specialized training that can range from certification to multi-year degree programs. That often means working adults must balance the demands of their current jobs with the rigors of attaining new or additional education. 

While education is a great investment in the long run, the cost of attaining needed education can feel prohibitive for workers who don’t have a lot of discretionary income. In fact, according to, 57 percent of employees in one survey said their top barrier to making a career change was lack of financial security. Many would-be students may not have the margin to add the cost of tuition to their current living expenses, not to mention the cost of books, lab fees, and technology requirements. 

Many working adults also have childcare and/or eldercare responsibilities that complicate the already complex prospect of making a career change. For many, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to maintain the status quo and strive for something better.

How Can Employers, Educators, and Communities Support Career Changes?

With so many workers thinking about changing careers, it behooves employers, policy makers,and educators to consider ways to support employee career transitions. 

1. Providing Tuition Assistance

With employees identifying financial concerns as the top barrier to making a career change, employers and educators can step in by offering tuition assistance programs, repayment assistance, tuition reimbursement programs, or as is the case with many community colleges, low-cost credit options that make it possible for students to pay as they go. Employers, community groups, and educators should also consider sponsoring scholarship programs for non-traditional students given that 38 percent of undergraduate students are over 25 years old, 58 percent work while attending school, and 26 percent are raising families. Such students may be more averse to taking on student loan debt than traditional students who are likely to be younger and have fewer financial obligations3.

Recognizing the burden student loans can place on employees, many employers are opting to provide loan repayment assistance programs as part of their benefits packageDolr is one such company that makes it easy for employers to partner with employees in paying down student loan debt. Using Dolr, employers can set a budget and timetable on repayment assistance, as well as place parameters on which employees are eligible for assistance and when. Many employers are finding student loan repayment assistance is a popular and highly sought-after benefit that can improve both employee recruitment and retention. In fact, 94 percent of professionals4 say they would be more willing to stay with their employer if offered student loan repayment assistance. 

2. Offering Flexible Work Schedules

One of the most important things employers can do is to give career changing employees a measure of flexibility in their existing work schedule. This could mean providing the occasional extra-long lunch break or allowing an employee to leave work early on days when he or she needs to be present for an exam or assignment at school. 

In some cases, students will seek to change their hours or shift schedules to accommodate their studies. When employers are amenable to these schedule changes, it makes new or additional education that much more attainable for employees.

3. Partnering with Community-Based Organizations to Address Barriers to Work

Adding schooling to an already full work and family schedule can be especially daunting. Childcare and eldercare responsibilities can pose barriers to further education/training and career transitions. While most will rely on family and friends to provide care when they cannot be present, some workers lack social circles that can provide this level of support. In these cases, employer and community-based programs may be the solution. Recognizing the need for employee childcare, some employers have been able to provide on-site care programs. In other instances, many community centers and service organizations, such as churches and YMCAs, offer after-school programming that could allow a parent several hours of uninterrupted work or study time. 

Making a career change requires a great deal of effort, time, risk, and flexibility on the part of employees. Most adults will need some amount of flexibility from both their employer and their school. They will need options and opportunities for financing their education. They will also need support from their family, friends, and community. 

By offering learning opportunities, flexibility, and support, employers can help career changing adults transition into successful careers in their industry.

About Workmorphis

Workmorphis provides a full suite of services to help organizations across the U.S. revitalize their workforce, including workforce planning strategiesskills transformationdiversified workforce pipeline strategiesemployee support and empowerment, and more.

Connect with us at 877.999.7717 or to offer your insights or learn how we can help you transform your workforce.

Meet the Authors

Mandy Minick is the Principal and Founder at Minick Public Relations, LLC in Columbus, Ohio. For over 20 years, Mandy has built public relations and communications acumen from nearly every angle—as a reporter, working in state government, representing for-profit businesses, advocating for non-profit organizations, and as press secretary and chief communications officer for the Ohio Department of Education. Here she served under two state superintendents of public instruction as they navigated a statewide school-building closure and helped to guide and support the education system through the challenges and aftermath of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Mandy holds bachelor’s degrees in English/Journalism (B.A.) and Mass Communication/Public Relations (B.S.) from Miami University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Mount Carmel College of Nursing and was privileged to serve oncology patients at The Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital. She enjoys tackling amateur home improvements, reading biographies, and listening to podcasts.

Emily Fabiano is the founder of Workmorphis, a cross-sector workforce consultancy helping organizations build a more resilient workforce to thrive in a changing economy. Fabiano has deep experience in workforce transformation at the government level, working at the cross section of workforce strategy, economic development, and public policy. With a keen understanding of the unique challenges facing today’s and tomorrow’s workforce and the ability to communicate across sectors, Fabiano brings a new level of understanding and collaboration required to connect industry and education and prepare people for jobs.

Nicholas Klein focuses on project execution and policy strategy at Workmorphis. He is an expert implementer who specializes in decoding the public workforce system to help employers and employees compete in a fast-changing labor market. Passionate about advancing policies that create economic mobility, Klein believes that great strategies create new opportunities and prosperity potential at all levels throughout our workplaces, from ownership to entry-level. Klein is a two-time graduate of The Ohio State University, recently earning his Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs and his BA in Political Science. In between, he worked in the entertainment industry. His favorite things include action-adventure video games, history, indie and Americana music, and science fiction movies.

  1. 21 Career Change Statistics [2022]: How Often Do People Change Jobs? – Zippia
  2. EdX Survey Finds that about 1/3 of Americans ages 25 – 44 have Completely Changed Fields Since Starting their First Job Post-College 
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