What's Holding Back Your Career? Wrong Profession Choice, Lack of Promotions and Too Few People Moving Aside at the Top Are Damaging Our Prospects, Writes Niki Chesworth

Article excerpt

Byline: Niki Chesworth

IF you want to get to the top, you might have a long wait. It takes board members 36 years from graduation to climb the ladder to the boardroom, according to analysis by specialist HR recruiter Ortus. With the average FTSE-100 board member aged 57, and one in six aged 65 or over, there is a talent bottleneck in the upper echelons of corporations preventing younger, ambitious highflyers from moving up.

"In an age where global organisations can be led by twentysomethings -- with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg still under 30 -- aspiration for rapid advancement has never been higher," says Stephen Menko, UK director of Ortus. "Increasingly, Generation Y are hungry for seniority before their time."

Although some sectors have a more youthful senior team -- supermarkets Tesco, J Sainsbury and WM Morrison have an average board member age of 52 while Capital has the youngest company board with an average age of just over 50 -- there are board directors in their eighties. Among the oldest sectors are aerospace and defence with average board ages of 61.

NO RETIREMENT OR PROMOTION

Not surprisingly one in five UK professionals believes that their career is being held by back by older people not retiring. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there are now almost a million over the age of 65 still in the workforce, and this means that fewer vacancies are arising as a result of retirement -- limiting the opportunities for advancement further up the career ladder.

"The older working population presents problems for staff retention among younger employees," adds Menko.

"While experience is extremely important and older people have more of this to draw on, companies must strike a balance and ensure younger people don't feel their path to the top is blocked. Without a clear route, many could decide their best opportunity for progression is an external move."

A lack of promotions is seen as one of the biggest threats to advancement. Nearly four in 10 professionals surveyed said they left their last role in order to advance their career prospects or because of a lack of progression opportunity. …