Millennials, the portion of the population born after 1980, are expected to make up over a third of the global workforce by 2020, and many from the generation are limbering up to be part of the rat race for a very long time.

With the age of retirement creeping ever upwards, millennials know they’ll have longer working lives. More than half expect to work past the age of 65, according to a new report.

The long game

The Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision report from Manpower surveyed over 19,000 millennials across the world, to find out their career expectations and how these differ from generations before them.

Millennials are expecting to work into old age, with more than a quarter of people expecting to be employed until past the age of 70. Not only are they expecting to work for most of their lives, but 12% are expecting to work until the day they die.

When do millennials expect to retire?
Image: Manpower

A dead end

Japanese millennials are perhaps the most pessimistic, with more than a third expecting to die at their desks. They are followed by China, where almost one in five millennials thinks they will work until the end of their life.

Millennials expecting to work until they die
Image: Manpower

Spain is perhaps the most optimistic country, with only 3% of millennials expecting to work until they die.

Lazy characterization

With millennials expecting long careers, and already working long hours – nearly a quarter work over 50 hours a week – the idea of millennials as a lazy generation could be seen as unfair. But in fact, it's not all work and no play: 84% of millennials predict significant breaks during their careers, reinforcing the idea that the traditional "career ladder" climb of earlier generations is being replaced by "career waves".

Caring priorities

The reasons behind career breaks differ between genders, with more women expecting to take time off to care for others. Among millennials, 61% of women are planning to take time off for the birth of their children, compared with only 32% of men; and 33% of women plan to care for their children during a career break, something only one in five men expect to do.

This divide doesn’t bode well for a more gender-equal future, with men more likely to prioritize time for themselves, and women expecting to need time off to care for others.

Why do millennials think they'll need to take a break?
Image: Manpower

Despite the findings, though, both genders state a desire to take time for themselves. Relaxation, travel and vacations are the most likely reasons for men to take a break from work, with 42% already planning it. It is also the top choice of "me time" for women.

Marriage, pursuing a life dream and returning to education are three things that more than one-fifth of millennials would consider taking a career break for.

As young people expect to work for longer, they see their careers developing in shorter bursts, changing paths and pace, and taking more frequent breaks. And as such a change in career expectations takes place among a large and growing segment of the global workforce, employers should take note.