Happiness is hand-on

Mar 19 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Who has real job satisfaction? Forget lawyers, accountants and architects, when it comes to happiness, hairdressers, plumbers and care assistants are the ones with the biggest smiles on their faces.

The new ‘Happiness Index’ compiled by training organisation City & Guilds has found that a fifth of people with vocational jobs describe themselves as ‘extremely happy’ with their job, more than double the rate of office-bound professionals.

People who do practical work are also pretty content with their career choice, with more than seven out of ten saying that they have never regretted taking the vocational path.

Nearly three quarters of trade professionals find their line of work rewarding compared to fewer than seven out of ten white-collar workers.

‘Hands on’ employees also say that they feel valued, learn new skills, benefit from being their own boss and love not being chained to a desk all day. Half also say that the camaraderie of their jobs brings with a good social life at work.

Chris Humphries, Director General at City & Guilds, said: “It’s a misconception that white-collar professionals have the best jobs and are therefore the happiest. As our research proves, it’s often people in vocational careers that are the most content and fulfilled.

Despite low wages, it is the country’s care assistants that top the poll of contented occupations – four out of ten say that they are “very happy”. Using their hands and head also make more than three out of ten hairdressers, plumbers and chefs very happy, while a fifth of florists are similarly content.

The main downside of vocational jobs is a lack of long enough holidays – only 13 per cent of vocational employees said that they enjoy long breaks compared with 23 per cent of other workers. Meanwhile half of both white collar and blue collar workers complained that they are not getting paid enough.

On the flip side of the Index, one in ten IT specialists and mechanics say that their job makes them unhappy, and six per cent of architects, pharmacists and media-based workers.

The highest levels of happiness amongst professionals were found among chartered engineers (18 per cent) and lawyers (16 per cent). Estate agents were the least happy with their lot - only four per cent awarded themselves a maximum happiness score in the survey.

"There is an increasing trend for people to swap careers to do something more hands on," Chris Humphries added. “A lot of employees are starting to realise that job satisfaction is more important than any other consideration, including money. You spend such a lot of time at work, it’s vital to enjoy what you do.”