March 17, 2005--Nearly 60% of out-of-work people consider switching careers, while only 44% weigh starting their own businesses, according to a recent survey of 2,500 people in North America.

The survey conducted by Right Management Consultants, a career transition and organizational consulting firm, revealed that six out of 10 people are considering making a switch, while four out of 10 consider self-employment a viable option.

One possible reason for the propensity towards career switching is industry consolidations. "Industry-switching is becoming more and more common as fields such as banking, communications and others continue to consolidate, creating fewer opportunities in those areas," said Doug Matthews, executive vice president and the head of career-transition services at Right Management.

Only 44% of the respondents said they were considering opening their own businesses. People over 61 years old had the greatest zeal for entrepreneurship, while those under 30 had the least.

Older people have the time, resources and experience to succeed on their own, said Matthews. "A 26 year old doesn't have the borrowing power. But someone who has worked for 30 years--and has built up a portfolio--can leverage their own money against capital assets."

According to Matthews, nearly 40% of older entrepreneurs go into consulting, a field where they can sell their years of experience and expertise. The others, he said, run the gamut. "I have seen a Fortune 50 CEO go into the car-washing business, and a head of human resources start a commercial real-estate business," said Matthews.

But these are the few exceptions. Right Management found that only 40% actually switched careers, a 29% drop from those that considered a move. Even fewer make the more drastic--and riskier--shift into self-employment. Of the 44% that toyed with opening their own business, less than 10% actually did.

Published on: Mar 17, 2005