Unlocking Opportunity Starts With Understanding It

February 11, 2020

Opportunity Index

LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. Central to this is a belief that two people with equal talent should have equal access to opportunity. 

To better understand how people define opportunity and the barriers they face in accessing it, we’re excited to publish the first global LinkedIn Opportunity Index. This research gives us a view into how people around the world think about opportunity: their attitudes, their realities, and the challenges they face.

Unlocking opportunity starts with understanding it, so our hope is that these insights will encourage employers, workers, jobseekers, students, researchers, and policymakers to rethink the meaning of opportunity -- as well as the barriers to it -- and to identify and develop new tools that will help unlock opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Opportunity means something different to everyone. Your perception of opportunity, and the barriers you face in accessing it, depend on where you live, where you went to school, and where you work. Here’s a snapshot of what we found:

  • The future looks bright for developing economies, and young, urban professionals. The five countries with the highest confidence about emerging and growing opportunities in their region are developing economies. Looking at broader global trends, we see optimism and confidence are higher among professionals who are: younger, higher-educated, higher-earning and live in urban centers

  • Age is more than just a number, and it’s a barrier for both younger and older generations. Despite the fact that professionals are staying in the workforce longer than ever, many Boomers feel that age may be holding them back and are feeling the pressure to keep up with new skills. Age also comes into play for younger workers. Gen Z, in particular, cites two key age barriers: lack of work experience and confidence, and lack of direction and guidance.

  • Despite seeing bursts of economic growth across the globe, financial status is the number one barrier to opportunity globally. 40 percent of Gen-Z, our youngest respondents, say their financial status is an almost insurmountable barrier to opportunity. What may be more surprising is that slightly more Baby Boomers – 42 percent – say the same. 

  • Networks help connect you to opportunity, but most people aren’t investing in them. Knowing the right people can lead to more, and better, opportunities. Yet, even though most people know strong networks are important, only 22% are actively seeking networking opportunities. This is, in part, why we are so focused on closing the network gap: if we can help people build stronger and more diverse networks, they can more easily unlock the opportunities they want. 

This report is part of our broader effort to map, measure, and understand the factors that affect opportunity as the world of work changes. Whether it’s granular insights around the jobs and skills emerging in the economy, or insight into how we can ensure women are shaping the future of work, we’re using this digital map of the global economy to help broaden our collective understanding of the future of work.

And a more complete understanding of what opportunity means for across the globe will help all of us – from the engineers and data scientists at LinkedIn who build our products, to members and customers who use our products, and importantly, leaders shaping policies and workplaces  – close the network gap and work to make sure everyone is able to achieve their full potential. 

For more insights from the Opportunity Index, read the full report here.

Methodology: To develop the Index, we administered short, 20-minute online surveys to a diverse, globally representative sample of more than 30,500 people ages 18 to 65 in 22 markets comprising North America, Latin America, Europe, the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East and North Africa. Here’s what we found.