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.

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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.

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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%.

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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.

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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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