Some unfortunate mismatches in young people’s job preferences and prospects
The world of work is changing. Are people ready for the new job outlook? A survey of 15-year-olds across 41countries by the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, found that teenagers may have unrealistic expectations about the kind of work that will be available.
Four of the ﬁve most popular choices were traditional professional roles: doctors, teachers, business managers and lawyers. Teenagers clustered around the most popular jobs, with the top ten being chosen by 47% of boys and 53% of girls. Those shares were signiﬁcantly higher than when the survey was conducted back in 2000.
The rationale for this selection was partly down to wishful thinking on the part of those surveyed (designers, actors and musical performers were three of the top 15 jobs). Youth must be allowed a bit of hope. When Bartleby was a teenager, his ambitions were to play cricket for England and become prime minister; neither ambition was achieved (a lucky escape for the country on both counts).
Furthermore, teenagers can hardly be expected to have an in-depth knowledge of the minutiae of labour-market trends. They will have encountered doctors and teachers in their daily lives. Other popular professions, such as lawyers and police oﬃcers, will be familiar from ﬁlms and social media. But many people end up in jobs they would not have heard of in their school years. You settle for what is available.