Survey Suggests the ‘Great Resignation’ Will Continue Next Year

A large number of working Americans plan to leave their jobs next year and are preparing for new opportunities by acquiring career-related skills.

December 16, 2021 · Updated on January 7, 2022

Survey Suggests the ‘Great Resignation’ Will Continue Next Year
Data Studies
Photo by Nora Carol Photography / Moment / Getty Images

  • Over a third (38%) of working Americans are planning to change or considering changing roles or employers in 2022.
  • However, 72% of Americans stuck with their job this year amid the Great Resignation.
  • Still, over 1 in 4 (27%) workers plan to learn new skills in 2022 for a potential future job change.

The "Great Resignation" is far from over. Though the majority of Americans stayed with their current employer in 2021, a new BestColleges survey of 965 working Americans found that more than 1 in 3 respondents (38%) plan to change, or are considering changing, roles or employers next year. Additionally, many are looking to reskill or upskill for potential opportunities in the near future.

Among individuals who did leave their employer or changed roles at their current employer in 2021, 69% anticipate or are considering more changes to their employment in 2022. Working Americans who changed jobs in the past year most commonly entered roles similar to their previous ones, but in an entirely new industry (38%).

Overall, there are more American workers who reported leaving their employer this year than workers who reported they intend to leave their employer next year. However, respondents still show that they are open to any changes and opportunities that may come their way in 2022.

Individuals in households earning under $40,000 a year were most likely to leave their former employer for a new one in 2021. One in five (20%) respondents in this income bracket left their old employers this past year (compared to 16% of respondents earning $40,000 a year or more).

Younger Americans were also most likely to experience employment changes this year. Generation Z (age 18-24) were more than twice as likely as Generation X (age 41-56) to leave their previous employers and start working for another in 2021 (30% vs. 13%). Unsurprisingly, baby boomers (age 57-75) were least likely to change jobs or roles this year, with 90% reporting no changes to their employment in 2021.

When looking ahead to 2022, there is a little uncertainty among respondents about what their future employment will look like. While a total of 15% of respondents have plans to leave their current employer next year, 9% plan to start working for another employer and 6% are unsure about what they will do next. Additionally, 18% of respondents are considering changes to their employment though haven't made concrete plans.

There were notable differences in respondents' employment plans for 2022 according to gender and race. Men were nearly twice as likely as women to say they plan to change employers in 2022 (11% vs. 6%). Meanwhile, Black respondents, Latino/a respondents, and respondents from other racial or ethnic groups were each more than twice as likely than white respondents to report they plan to leave their employer and start working for a different employer next year.

Nearly Half of Working Americans Upskilled or Reskilled in 2021

Regardless of working Americans' employment choices in 2021, 47% engaged in upskilling or reskilling activities, with or without the support of their employer.

Upskilling refers to learning new skills to be better equipped to do your current job.

Reskilling refers to learning new skills in order to perform a different job.

These definitions were provided to survey participants.

Thirty-six percent of respondents say they learned skills related to their current job, while over one in five respondents (21%) learned skills related to a potential job change in the future. Though 45% report learning no new career-related skills in 2021, 12% who didn't considered doing so.

Overall, working Americans were most likely to have learned new skills independently this year as opposed to learning skills with the support of their employer.

There were also significant demographic differences in upskilling and reskilling this year.

Postgraduate degree holders were most likely to report they'd learned new skills related to their current jobs in 2021 (52%).

Among varying racial/ethnic groups, white respondents (51%) were more likely to report considering learning new skills related to their career in 2021 but ultimately not doing so than Black (41%), Latino/a (33%) and respondents from other racial or ethnic groups (28%).

As expected, Generation Z was much more likely to have learned new career-related skills this year than millennials (age 25-40), Generation X, or baby boomers. Gen Z respondents were seven times more likely to have learned skills related to a potential job change than baby boomers in 2021 (42% vs. 6%).

Over 2 in 3 Working Americans Will Learn New Career-Related Skills Next Year

The majority of respondents (68%) report that they anticipate or are considering learning new skills related to their career next year. While some will be pursuing these skills on their own, others plan to learn new skills with support from their employer.

One in four millennials (25%) say they plan to learn new skills related to their current job without support from their employer next year. Out of all generational groups, they were the group most likely to anticipate learning skills independently without employer assistance.

Americans See Value in Upskilling and Reskilling, Regardless of Employment Goals

Whether they anticipate a promotion, hope to remain employed in their current role, or are seeking new opportunities elsewhere, working Americans overwhelmingly agree that upskilling and reskilling are an important part of the employment process.

Nearly 7 in 10 respondents (68%) agreed that learning new skills is important to being a competitive job candidate. Sixty-four percent say it is important for being considered for a promotion, and 56% believe acquiring new skills is important to remain in one's current position.

There were also significant demographic differences in agreement on the importance of upskilling and reskilling depending on respondents' income and education levels.

High-earning respondents, or those in households earning $80,000 or more a year, were most likely to agree with the importance of upskilling or reskilling as a job candidate (76%), to be considered for promotions (68%), or to remain in their current position (61%). Comparatively, low-earning respondents, or those in households earning under $40,000 a year, were less likely to agree on the importance of upskilling and reskilling.

Additionally, there were significant differences in agreement among demographic groups by education level on the importance of upskilling and reskilling. Postgraduate degree holders were most likely to agree that upskilling and/or reskilling activities are important to be a competitive job candidate.



Methodology

BestColleges.com commissioned YouGov PLC to conduct the survey. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov PLC. The total sample size was 965 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all working U.S. adults (aged 18+). Fieldwork was undertaken on Nov. 23-24, 2021. The survey was carried out online and meets rigorous quality standards.