Teenagers aspiring to traditional jobs despite rise of technology over past 20 years, study finds

Eleanor Busby
Getty

Teenagers are shunning digital jobs and aspiring to work in the most popular, traditional occupations — like teachers, doctors or vets — despite major changes to the world of work, a global study has found.

Young people’s career expectations have become more concentrated in fewer occupations over the past two decades despite the rise of social media and technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Traditional occupations from the 19th and 20th centuries, such as lawyers and police officers, continue to capture the imaginations of young people around the world as they did nearly 20 years ago.

The report, based on the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) survey of 15-year-olds in 41 countries, said the career expectations of youngsters may be “out of date and unrealistic”.

Nearly half of young people around the world aspire to work in just 10 of the most common professions.

Andreas Schleicher, OECD education and skills director, said: “The surveys show that too many teenagers are ignoring, or are unaware of, new types of jobs that are emerging, particularly as a result of digitalisation.”

“It is a concern that more young people than before appear to be picking their dream job from a small list of the most popular, traditional occupations, like teachers, lawyers or business managers,” he said.

Mr Schleicher added that gender and social stereotypes still play a part in young people's career aspirations in the UK, but no more so than in other countries.

The report found that among boys and girls who perform similarly in science, boys are more likely to expect to work in science and engineering.

The top 10 occupations cited by boys has changed very little since 2000 — but girls are now more likely to want to be architects, police officers, and designers rather than hairdressers, writers or secretaries.

The report also finds a broader range of career aspirations in countries with strong, established vocational training for teenagers.

For example, in Germany teenagers show a much wider range of career interests that better reflect patterns of labour market demand.

It comes as a separate report from charity Education and Employers warns of a disconnect between the career hopes of young people and British jobs.

The study by the charity shows more than a third of students in the UK report a lack of careers advice at schools and colleges.

Young people's aspirations are set as young as age seven, and do not change enough over time to meet demand, the report adds.

Nick Chambers, chief executive of Education and Employers, said: “Our vision should be of a world where employer engagement is an everyday element of schooling, from the first years of primary school to the last days of upper secondary.”

Read more

Millions of people risk being unemployed or in unsuitable jobs by 2030