Tags: #Aspirations #career careeradvice #careerchoices #careercounselling #Education #futureofwork #knowledgeeconomy #OECD #PISA #potential #professionals #skills #society #students

Who can guide students in early career planning?

What informed your young age career choices?

Last year OECD report (PISA in Focus) illustrates how families’ socio-economic status influences young people’ understanding of their career and educational possibilities. Students from disadvantaged background who have high career expectations, do not necessarily know how education can help them accomplish that. To quote the report:

  • “In Austria, Germany, Hungary, the Republic of Moldova, Poland and Switzerland, one in two disadvantaged students who saw themselves working as professionals or managers at the age of 30 did not expect to pursue any tertiary education […].
  • On average across OECD countries, only 7 in 10 high-achieving disadvantaged students reported that they expect to complete tertiary education, while 9 in 10 high-achieving advantaged students reported so.
  • Four in ten students, on average across OECD countries, reported that they do not know how to get information about student financing. In Belgium, Denmark, Hong Kong (China), Ireland, Morocco and New Zealand, more than one in two disadvantaged students reported so”.

A lot of talented young people may not access education and career opportunities matching their intellectual potential because they do not know what options they have and what to do to access them. In Germany, for example, 64% of 15-year-olds imagined themselves in managerial or professional jobs in the future, however, among those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, 75% did not plan to pursue university education, vs. just 30% of those growing up in advantaged families. The gap between expectations and knowing how to get there is also very wide in Hungary, Austria, Poland, and Switzerland. On the contrary, in countries such as the USA, Singapore, Canada, Turkey, or Chile, the misalignment between students’ career and education aspirations is very narrow, around 10%, regardless of their social background. What do these countries do differently? Do schools there have good career orientation programmes in place?

Exposure and role modelling inform children’s early career pursuits. Currently, career paths are not so specific as they used to be. A lot of professional positions are difficult to define using traditional descriptions and job titles do not convey a meaning in everyday language. Skills and knowledge rather than specific learnt professions are what employers are searching for.

Families who are not participating in highly skilled job market today may find it more difficult to guide their children in the early career choices for the future. For many, accessing higher education may seem beyond reach or too aspirational, contrary to children’s actual potential and the return on investment.

What can society do differently around the world to leverage the talent of the young generations for the future, skill-powered economy?

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