This morning a survey report from Education & Employers has been released called “Nothing in common: The career aspirations of young Britons mapped against projected labour market demand.”
The news coverage of the report concludes that there is, “a “massive mismatch” between young people’s career expectations and the reality of the jobs available.”
“Career expectations” is a rather grand term when you compare this with what the children were actually asked.
“Young people participating in the survey were provided with a list of 69 occupations across a multitude of UK industrial sectors and instructed in the context of a survey exploring their career choices to “please click on your favourite three jobs from the list below”
“Your favourite three jobs” is an interesting choice of phrase to use here – I would put forward that it’s a very different question to a teenager to “what job do you expect to be doing in 15 years time” and, subsequently, you would get very different results.
The scope of the survey is impressive with almost 11,000 young people asked but the actual results will shock no one that actually works with young people.
Big surprise – they want to do exciting and enticing things with their lives
A few months back a news story about apprenticeships included an owner of a chain of old people’s homes bemoaning the lack of applicants for their apprenticeship scheme. Turns out it’s difficult to entice and tempt young people to be enthusiastic about applying for a job that involves wiping old people’s backsides for a fair few years. Who knew?
Big surprise – the media and branding influences they consume will have a greater influence over the positive connotations they assign to job roles and work areas then little old me (and all of the much better versions of me) can combat
The X factor contains many powerful messages. Magazines and newspapers are full to the absolute brim with interviews not with CERN scientists but some random who once walked across the background in TOWIE or dated a footballer and then stole the nation’s heart every Saturday night on Celebrities Skating on Ice in Skimpy Tops. This is a strong tide to fight against. They are given a glimpse into exciting and tantalising lives every day but then told that these exciting lives are not for them and, really, they should think about a career in the hotel industry. This is not to say that “the establishment” can’t fight back against this, witness the rise in interest in engineering as a career route over the last 12-18 months as the rhetoric from the Government has focused on this area.
Big surprise – they’re unsure of jobs they don’t know much about or that have mundane connotations.
I’ve blogged before about my take on why young people latch onto certain job titles as ones they aspire to here:
and the list of most popular options at ages 13-14 in the survey fits in with this
9. Uniformed Services
When presented with a list of options, young people will revert to safe choices, job roles they are fairly confident they have a clear idea of what that job is either because they see it everyday (teachers, doctors) or see it enacted through their media input (lawyers, police). The clear answer to this is to make more young people confident in more job types at this age. Businesses of all types – get into your local schools!
Finally, the unspoken message of this report is that education should only be preparing a workforce ready to fit into the roles needed by industry. An Ofsted report last week encouraged FE Colleges to make the most of new freedoms and tailor their course offers to reflect the needs of the local labour market. It seems sensible to prepare post 16 learners for the needs of local industry but there is a big different to 13 year olds who have not yet started their GCSE courses. They are still children. Don’t put them on the treadmill to ‘suitable’ employment just yet. For a while yet at least, let them sing and dance and act and dream.