Teenagers want to be musicians, actors, teachers and police, but have no interest in the fields of hospitality, care, administration and management, where they are far more likely to find work.
A study of 11,000 young people aged 13 to 18 found no link between careers that young people want and the jobs that experts think will exist for them in the future. Acting was the most popular job for 13 and 14-year-olds and still 11th most popular among 17 and 18-year-olds.
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, (ASCL) said: “Young people of that age group are very easily influenced, for wholly understandable reasons, by the circumstances in which they grow up. Yes, they see celebrity culture and are attracted to those sorts of things. They tend to go for stereotypical ideas of what might be the right career, things that their friends have said. We need really high quality careers advice.”
The 11,000 children surveyed were given a list of 69 different occupations and asked to pick three in which they were particularly interested. The results were compared with labour market intelligence which predicts which jobs are most likely to exist.
Among teenagers aged 15 and 16, more than a fifth held ambitions to work in culture, media or sport. But of the new and replacement jobs predicted for the UK economy, only 2.4 per cent were in these areas.
The study, by the charity Education and Employers Taskforce, said: “The career aspirations of teenagers can be said to have nothing in common with the projected demand for labour between 2010 and 2020.” However, it pointed out that career choices became more realistic as children got older. By 17 and 18-years-old, the top choice was teacher, followed by psychologist and accountant.
Anthony Mann, the lead author, said: “Young people need to get their information from reliable sources rather than the television. We need to make it as easy as possible for schools to connect with employers.”
The study, entitled Nothing in Common says: “There is good reason to believe that it [the career mismatch] is a significant problem.
“Risks are high that they [young people] will pursue educational journeys which may ultimately lead to them to struggle to find relevant work after leaving school, college or university.”
The report speaks of a possible “period of churn” where young people who have pursued qualifications they cannot use, may need to seek new training and experience.
But Hilary French, president of the Girl’s School Association (GSA), said that parents shouldn’t worry about their children’s career choices: “What they want to do at 16 isn’t what they want to do at 21. Young people often change their minds about acting or being musicians, I see it all the time.”
The report points out that the least popular professions are not simply the least lucrative.
“It cannot be simply assumed that young people are responding to salary drivers. Seven of the occupations listed (locksmith, welder, surveyor, speech therapist, personnel/HR, miner and audiologist) among the ten least popular choices of these teenagers typically pay more than the UK’s median average salary (£21,473), on occasion, substantially so.”