Young people unaware of many lucrative careers, survey suggests

2nd September 2016 at 08:02
careers advice postcode lottery
New research suggests that UK teens over-select jobs in medicine and journalism, but may be neglecting lucrative careers with better job prospects

Young people in Britain consider less than one in five of the jobs which could be available to them, a major survey has found. The research, published last month by skills body City & Guilds, also highlights the significant disparities in awareness among the 3,000 14-19 year olds questioned. 

Young Scots, for example, only considered 18 per cent of the 369 jobs listed by the government, while their peers in the South East of England considered 25 per cent. Asked about jobs they would consider as a career, young Londoners mentioned a larger number of jobs than teens in any other UK city. These youngsters were also more optimistic than young people elsewhere in the UK regarding their salary expectations, setting them significantly higher than outside the capital. According to City & Guilds, the expected future salary of young people from Wales was almost £9,000 lower than the expectations of those from London.

Young people across the UK, however, had skewed views of the careers which might be available to them, the business body stressed, overselecting specific careers which often offered only a limited number of vacancies. In the North East of England, for example, more than six times the number of young people said they would consider working in metalwork production compared to the number of jobs predicted to be available in that industry. And in Liverpool, there were 20 young people considering becoming psychologists for every predicted job opening.

'National scandal'

The mapping of career aspirations against job forecasts was carried out in partnership with economic modellers Emsi. Head of marketing, Rob Slane, said the oversubscribed occupations were “the obvious jobs”, such as doctors, journalists, and computer programmers that most young people would be aware of, but there were also many well paid occupations that virtually nobody chose.

City & Guilds is calling on the government to level the playing field and provide a national careers guidance service accessible to every child. This, they urge, should incorporate access to employers, jobs market information and destinations data for every young person leaving education. In April, the NUS students’ union branded the state of careers advice a “national scandal”,

Kirstie Donnelly managing director of City & Guilds said: “The Government has identified that a lack of careers advice was affecting the futures of millions of the UK’s young people and created the Careers and Enterprise Company in response. Whilst that has gone some way to addressing the problem, it’s clear from our findings that much more needs to be done to give every young person in the UK the same advantages – whether they are living in London or Leeds.”

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