Survey Indicates Shift to “Helping Careers”
The desire to help others is causing working adults to reassess their personal and professional goals and, more specifically, their career potential, according to a nationwide online survey conducted by University of Phoenix. Nearly one quarter of the 6,000 working adults surveyed reported being dissatisfied with their current careers and said they were considering a career switch. “We’re seeing a real shift in working adults who are re-careering into fields that offer greater job fulfillment,” said Lisa Ackerman, campus director for University of Phoenix Las Vegas. “This often means going back to school to earn post-secondary degrees and networking with others who can help them pursue their career aspirations.” Other survey results showed:
Nearly half (46 percent) of survey respondents have been in their current careers for more than 10 years, with another 23 percent in the five- to 10-year range.
Of working adults surveyed, 23 percent – the same percentage as those dissatisfied with their current careers – were looking to make a career switch.
Among those currently considering a career change, 61 percent cited “the opportunity to do something more fulfilling” as the main reason. Similarly,
48 percent are looking for “the opportunity to do something different.” Another 42 percent were considering a new career to earn better pay.
Survey respondents who indicated they were considering a career change were most interested in pursuing careers in education (13 percent), healthcare/medical (9 percent), computer hardware/software/Internet (9 percent), business/ professional services (8 percent) and non-profit (8 percent).
According to 66 percent of respondents, financial issues have kept them from considering a career change. “Not enough time” and “not knowing where to start” were each cited by 36 percent of working adults surveyed, and another 30 percent say family issues have kept them from considering a career change.
What’s Cooking in Restaurants?
Avero Inc., a provider of business software to the hospitality industry, has pinpointed some of the industry’s most important trends to watch in 2005. Based on observations collected from restaurant, bar, hotel and casino clients across the country, these trends are a barometer of how the country’s most successful restaurants will be running their businesses in the coming year.
Specialty Beverages in the Spotlight. Fun and exotic specialty cocktails are becoming an attraction and a profit-booster even for white-tablecloth establishments and upscale restaurant chains. Top-shelf brands of vodka, gin and other spirits are being promoted, and better coffee and tea offerings are making an impact. Restaurants are investing in higher-quality espresso machines to make specialty coffee drinks and hiring tea sommeliers to offer pairing suggestions with their meals.
Bottled Water Beats Tap Water. Servers are finding that offering bottled water to their guests is another way to ensure an exceptional experience and maintain high profit margins.
Service Is In; Order Taking Is Out. Operators are renewing their focus on providing the best possible service to capture and retain customers.
Lounge Life. A restaurant is no longer just a place to enjoy a meal. Many are now outfitting a lounge component to offer their customers a place to linger before and after dinner, with comfortable sofas, armchairs and banquettes.
Small Plates, Big Profits. Restaurants are having success offering small plates and “sharing portions” on the menu. They may be treated as appetizers or ordered in larger quantities so guests can custom-create their own meals.
Fresh Fare is in Season. Chefs are increasingly paying attention to seasonal availability of produce and scouring the country to import the best-quality ingredients to offer guests. As a result, menus change constantly depending on what’s available.
Around-the-Clock Dedication. New technology, such as cell phones, Blackberry e-mail services and wireless PDAs are making it possible for managers and owners to stay constantly connected to their businesses. Managers are able to check in before, between and after shifts to make sure their businesses are running smoothly.
Rain or Shine. In cities where al fresco dining is popular, operators are increasingly tuning in to weather reports. By checking on business reports from previous days that had similar weather, operators can add or subtract employees or even offer an appropriate menu to maintain profitability – rain or shine.
Consumption Up, Saving Down
The U.S. economy has depended very heavily on consumption growth to drive the economy in the last several years, reports the Economic Policy Institute. Americans spent a record 88.8 percent of their pre-tax income in the third quarter of 2004. Between 1960 and 2000, consumption accounted for an average of 81.0 percent of pre-tax income. Just four years ago, that ratio was still 83.1 percent. Consumption has risen by 5.7 percentage points in just four years because of deep cuts in both saving and income taxes.
The report shows average Americans have nearly stopped saving. While some people do save, others are spending more than their income and going into debt. Total saving in third quarter 2004 was just 0.4 percent of pre-tax income, down 1.8 percentage points from four years ago. That’s the lowest level of personal saving since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Over the 1960-to-2000 period, personal saving averaged 7.0 percent of pre-tax income. The decline in saving seen in the late 1990s was often explained by the run-up in the stock market, which allowed personal wealth to rise without saving. Despite the subsequent decline in the stock market, however, saving has continued to decline. Many experts believe that to prepare for retirement and other purposes, the average American household needs to save at least 5 percent of income, and probably more.
The report concluded, “Consumption growth has propelled the economy for the last four years despite weak income growth. We can no longer expect consumption to be propelled by further income tax cuts or saving reduction. With strong enough income growth, however, total consumption could continue to grow even as its share of income falls and the share of both saving and taxes rise. Unfortunately, there has not been sufficiently strong income growth to allow that to happen in recent years.”