New report reveals major disconnect between young people’s career aspirations and jobs

The aspirations of young people in the UK are poles apart from the reality of the labour market, with significant implications for the economy, a new report reveals today.

Based on a survey of 7,000 young people aged 14-18, the report, Disconnected; Career aspirations and jobs in the UK’ by Education and Employers, shows a three-fold disconnect or worse between aspirations and demand in almost half of sectors, meaning far too many young people are destined for disappointment.

Other findings include:

  • Five times as many young people want to work in art, culture, entertainment and sport as there are jobs available;
  • Aspirations are set early, as young as 7, and do not change enough over time to meet demand;
  • Young people who benefit from careers activities have aspirations that are better connected to the labour market;
  • Extending best practice could change the lives of 100,000 school leavers per year.

The report makes the case for significant expansion of career-related learning in primary schools, more support for careers guidance in secondary schools, better labour market information for young people and better use of that information, as well as more help for parents and more engagement by employers.

“Improved career support in secondary schools and the expansion of career-related learning in primary schools can drive considerable economic benefits via reduced skills shortages and better alignment,” explains Nick Chambers, report co-author and Education and Employers CEO.

“There is also a positive relationship between young people’s engagement with the world of work and their GCSE attainment. Young people with links to employers are likely to earn more and are less likely to be NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training), while career-related learning in primary schools can both enthuse children about learning and tackle ingrained stereotypes that narrow aspirations.”

John Yarham, Interim Chief Executive of The Careers & Enterprise Company welcomed the report saying, “As the research shows, the more young people meet with real people in real jobs the more options they have about their own career paths. It confirms an abiding truth – you can’t be what you can’t see.”

“This study demonstrates that connecting young people with employers opens their eyes to the real opportunities of the job market and guides them to make more informed choices. It reinforces the vital importance of the concerted and collective effort to ensure our young people meet with a rich and diverse range of people from the world of work to enhance their prospects and life chances.”

Read an article in response to the report by by Head Teacher, David Baldwin

Find out more
See report:Disconnected; Career aspirations and jobs in the UK’ 

Read press coverage of the Disconnected report below:

Dream Jobs? Teenagers’ Career Aspirations and the Future of Work

The report is launched alongside new analysis of PISA data by the OECD, also published today in partnership with Education and Employers, which explores the aspirations of 500,000 young people across the world and finds a similar gap. The launch of Dream Jobs? Teenagers’ Career Aspirations and the Future of Work, is taking place in a Davos secondary school today, during the World Economic Forum.

For more details and to watch the panel discussion click here

panel discussion: How can today’s leaders prepare tomorrow’s workforce for a rapidly changing world of work?