How do we match the careers young people want with the jobs available?
Ask any young person about their dream job and you’ll often hear the same roles repeated: athlete, singer, teacher, doctor. However, the number of people wanting to do these jobs surpasses the number of roles available within the labour market.
What will I do?
A 2015 survey by skills provider City & Guilds asked 3,154 young people aged 14-19 about their career aspirations, mapping responses against the jobs expected to be available in 2022.
It found a significant mismatch between what young people expected to do and where jobs are actually going to be. Between them, survey participants chose just 34% of the jobs that will be created by 2022, meaning two-thirds of new jobs were not chosen by anybody.
For example, 3% of those surveyed said they wanted to be a psychologist – equivalent to 120,000 14-19 year olds across the UK – but only 7,550 psychologist jobs are expected to be available by 2022. The same gap was found in other popular job sectors, such as teaching, medical work and media.
No young person chose the job of an air traffic controller or tax expert – roles which could command salaries of £74,000 and £41,000 respectively – and positions such as business managers were similarly unpopular, despite offering high salaries and progression.
How will I do it?
A further issue is the ongoing belief among young people that they need to go to university to get a well-paid job – unsurprising after government targets at the turn of the century aimed to get 50% of young people into higher education. However, the City & Guilds survey shows that while 68% of students were planning on a university education, only 30% of jobs were at a graduate level.
“This backs up what we’ve been saying for some time: young people need better and more consistent exposure to employers and the workplace throughout their education,” says City & Guilds and ILM managing director Kirstie Donnelly.
“It includes the chance to take part in work experience, hear from employers about the range of jobs available and get inspired to work in previously unimagined areas.”
One route becoming increasingly popular is apprenticeships, with many employers now offering young people a route straight into work.
Learn about apprenticeships
City & Guilds Group is encouraging young people to learn about this route through its Apprentice Connect scheme, which helps current and former apprentices speak to young people about their experiences. After receiving training on presentation techniques and networking, these apprentice ‘ambassadors’ speak at assemblies and hold workshops for smaller groups of young people, talking about their career paths.
The 120 ambassadors come from a variety of locations around the UK and sectors, including the arts, telecoms, engineering and construction.
According to Lauren Roberts, the programme’s youth engagement coordinator, more than 47,000 young people have already learned about opportunities through the scheme. “Our research found that a lot of people don’t know about apprenticeships and what they do know is pretty negative, ” she says. “The idea is to change the perceptions young people have of apprenticeships.”
Roberts is an advocate of the benefits of apprenticeships having started out as an apprentice herself.
“I knew from the age of 14 that I didn’t want to go to college or university. I worked full-time after leaving school but found there was no progression where I was, so I started looking at apprenticeships; there were the same stigmas around apprentices as there are now, but the more I did, the better they seemed,” says Roberts.
She believes apprenticeships offer young people the chance to learn transferable skills and gain on-the-job training.
However, she’s keen to stress that apprenticeships need not always be an alternative to higher education.
Alternative gap year
“An apprenticeship can almost be like a gap year,” she says. “You can do one for a year, earn a salary, learn new skills; it can bring you closer to what you want do.
“People think it’s university or an apprenticeship, but you can do both. Do an accountancy apprenticeship and if it’s your passion, do a degree in it. If it’s not, you don’t have the debt you would from studying but you do have the experience and transferable skills.”