Teens Display Career Optimism

March 8, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Staffing | Youth & Gen X

Despite the ongoing economic recession, US teens display high degrees of optimism and confidence about their future job prospects, according to a new study from Junior Achievement and ING.

Teens See Ideal Job within Reach
The 2010 Kids and Careers Survey [pdf] indicates that almost 90% of US boys and girls ages 12-17 have confidence they will have their ideal job one day. Sixty-five percent of respondents were very confident they would have their ideal job, and 25% were extremely confident. Only 9% were not very confident, and none expressed no confidence in their likelihood of finding their ideal job.


However, teens are willing to sacrifice their ideal job for reasons both altruistic and self-interested. With multiple responses allowed, 84% of respondents would settle for a less-than-ideal job to have a positive impact on society. Seventy-one percent would do so if they were well paid. Other factors that would convince teens to take a less-than-ideal job include decision-making responsibilities (52%), extreme challenge (39%) and publicity and recognition (32%).

Worry Exists
Although teens are mostly confident about finding their ideal job, a sizable percentage admits to worrying about their job prospects. With multiple responses allowed, 36% percent of respondents say they are more worried about their future job prospects today than they were a year ago, with 38% saying they are less worried. Another 26% have the same level of worry, and 1% are unsure.


Not surprisingly, the economy (64%) and the unemployment (55%) are the two biggest reasons respondents who feel more worried have those increased fears. Not having enough real world experience (46%) and not knowing what career to pursue (30%) are other leading worries.

Teens Take Charge
When asked what factors are very important to helping them get a good job (with multiple responses allowed), respondents overwhelmingly chose factors directly within their control. Ninety-three percent cited believing in yourself and getting good grades, while 92% said graduating from college/technical school and high school are very important. Learning to be team player, communicate effectively and be a leader closely trailed at 90%.


Factors not under respondents’ direct control, such as the availability of school programs (81%), extracurricular activities (79%), and mentorship/networking (64%), were less popular choices.

Teens Seek Real World Knowledge

Schools seeking to best serve the needs of career-minded teens need to provide them with “real world” knowledge and experience, according to survey results. With multiple responses allowed, 87% of respondents said school can help them prepare for a successful career by helping them understand more clearly how what they’re learning now will be useful later. Eighty-five percent said schools could provide more outside-school opportunities, such as job shadowing, and 83% said programs that teach how to work well with others and be successful would be helpful. Another 79% mentioned career counseling, and only 1% said they do not think their school could do anything to help them.


Adults Show More Pessimism
Adults are decidedly more pessimistic about their careers than teens, according to a CareerBuilder.com survey of employees and employers conducted by Harris Interactive. Four in 10 (40%) US workers say they have had difficulty staying motivated at work in the past year, and nearly one-fourth (24%) do not feel loyal to their current employer. The survey also found that 23% of employers rate their organization’s current employee morale as low.

Both lack of motivation and low morale appear to be caused by a number of factors, including increased worker workloads, longer hours and strained resources during the recession. Two-in-five employees surveyed say their stress level at work is high and nearly half (47%) say that their workload has increased in the last six months. One-in-five are dissatisfied with their work/life balance.

About the Survey:The Junior Achievement-ING Kids and Careers Poll was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation from December 10-13, 2009, and surveyed 750 US boys and girls ages 12-17 by telephone.

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