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Report Explores the Aftermath of the 'Great Resignation' and the State of Upskilling

Ed tech company Cengage Group has released a follow-up to its 2022 report examining why workers quit their jobs during 2021 in what has been coined "The Great Resignation." In this 2023 sequel report, "Where Are They Now? The Great Resigners, One Year Later," the researchers examine in more depth the reasons why workers quit, and provide updates on resigners' new careers, job satisfaction, and recession fears, with implications for higher education.

The 2022 report, "From The Great Resignation to the Great Reskilling: Insight on What's Next for the Great Resigners," found that many companies changed their hiring practices in order to attract employees by not requiring degrees (looking at skills and potential instead), making professional development available, and allowing remote work. A significant percentage of the 1,200 workers polled during the last half of 2021 had examined their personal life/work balance and found it wanting. In addition, many workers were reskilling and moving into new industries.

Cengage's 2023 report, "Where Are They Now? The Great Resigners, One Year Later," again surveyed 1,200 workers they called the "Great Resigners" to find out where they went, whether they upskilled and/or switched industries, and whether they felt more job satisfaction, especially in light of the recession.

The report outlined several key takeaways:

  • Workers had little regret for resigning. Eighty-one percent said they do not regret leaving their jobs, and 85% said they are happy in their new positions. Half had stayed in the same industry, and half had switched. Jobs in technology accounted for 21% of their new roles.
  • Upskilling opportunities are a key factor in acquiring and retaining employees. The prospect of employer-paid online training and upskilling caused 66% of respondents to switch jobs, and 89% said they will take advantage of it. Of those leaving their former jobs, 56% said their employers did not offer these opportunities, 30% said the new jobs offered a "clear path to growth and development," and 27% said their new company's values were similar to their own.
  • The Great Resignation has led to the Great Retraining. Of those in new tech roles, 77% took online training courses, and 89% felt that led to their new jobs. Of interest to higher education institutions: Resigners are also "opting for shorter bursts of learning. More than half of the respondents who took an online training or class (62%) completed it in less than three months, while 31% enrolled in three- to six-month-long programs," the report noted.
  • A recession could cause the next big worker shift. Despite finding new jobs, 71% of workers fear a potential recession could negatively impact them. Even though healthcare is considered "recession proof," 84% of those workers feel they could be negatively impacted.

"The Great Resignation was a wake-up call to leaders that we must prioritize a greater connection between work and mission, provide clear career trajectories and opportunities for upward mobility to ensure our workers have the skills needed to sustain challenges and move into the future," said Michael E. Hansen, CEO, Cengage Group. "Losing sight of these important employee priorities can have an impact on culture and the bottom line. As we continue to face economic uncertainties, businesses should be focused on growing and empowering top talent, including creating connections with local education institutions and other partners to further opportunities for current and prospective talent."

The Cengage Group is a global ed tech company with a portfolio of education businesses that support students from middle school through graduate school and skills education. Visit the company's "What We Do" page to learn more about what it offers.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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