Six in 10 teens have a career in mind

Despite only being halfway through their secondary schooling, 60 percent of 14 and 15 year olds say they know what job they would like to have once they’ve completed their education, new Australian Institute of Family Studies research has found.

The research also found that many students aspire to take on jobs that won’t align with their expected level of educational attainment, and showed that uncertainty about a future career was high among those who did not expect to undertake post-school education.

“Career uncertainty at this age may not be a problem and in fact, it can actually be beneficial if it means teens get to explore a range of options,” Australian Institute of Family Studies senior research fellow, Jennifer Baxter said.

“Where it is less of a positive is for teens who are less motivated to explore the various options, who are less certain about their own abilities or whose school outcomes are poorer.

“For example, around half of those expecting to complete no education after secondary school were uncertain about their career future.

“This group of teens were also the least likely to be talking to parents, teachers or school counsellors about their future and may need extra guidance to avoid leaving school early.”

Dr Baxter said the research showed that there is a lack of understanding among some teens about having their educational and career goals in alignment.

“All teens need good information to help them identify the range of jobs that may be suitable to them and the pathway to achieve their aspiration,” she said.

“Some may also need help to modify their plans to suit their skills and the nature of the labour market.”

What jobs do young students aspire to?

  • Both boys and girls were attracted to the medical and science professions, and jobs in design, planning and architecture. However, there were other marked gender differences in choices of professional jobs. For example:
    • Boys often wanted to work in engineering or transport; in information and communications technology; or in construction
    • Girls ranked being educators, lawyers and social professionals such as counsellors among their top career choices
  • Boys were much more likely than girls to want a trade or technical job, such as a mechanic or builder. Girls were more likely than boys to want a job in personal services, such as hairdresser and beautician
  • A number of boys and girls referred to glamorous or "fantasy" occupations. For example, about one in ten said they would like to work in a job that involved sports or performance arts.

To read more about the Australian Institute of Family Studies Research, click here

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