Scots teenagers are ‘setting their sights too low’

The research has prompted calls to improve careers education amid fears that teens are setting themselves up for failure. Picture: TSPL
The research has prompted calls to improve careers education amid fears that teens are setting themselves up for failure. Picture: TSPL
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Scots teens are “setting their sights low” and opting for worse paid and less skilled jobs than youngsters south of the Border.

According to newly-published statistics, 14 to 19 year olds in Scotland are considering just 67 of the 369 jobs listed by the government.

And figures show that many of the jobs discounted by Scots youngsters are among the most highly skilled and well-paid professions – including banking, law-enforcement and IT. The numbers are in stark contrast to the UK as a whole where youngsters are considering a far higher 125 of the 369 future positions open to them.

The research – published by skills body City & Guilds – has prompted calls to improve careers education amid fears that teens are setting themselves up for failure.

The research found that Scots teens were particularly keen on future careers in the media. But they discounted jobs including air traffic controllers, senior police officers, IT, advertising, banking, education and energy.

Kirstie Donnelly, managing director of City & Guilds, 
said: “Our research demonstrates that they are not aware of the range of career paths open to them and, as a result, are setting their sights low when it comes to career aspirations.”

Scottish Conservative shadow secretary for education Liz Smith said: “It is really disappointing news to hear that young people in Scotland are much less aware of the variety of jobs available to them and are setting their sights low on their future careers. We should be striving to support our young people, whether that be through educational or vocational training, so they feel confident and build a brighter future for themselves.

“The SNP really need to be putting focus on support for schools which will allow them to deliver much better careers guidance. We need to turn this around so teens are setting their sights high on career aspirations.”

Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said the quality of career advice is an “ongoing issue”.

She added: “Despite the push around careers advice it seems to not be reaching young people sufficiently.”

The figures come four years after parents, teachers and career advisors expressed concern over the government’s web-based careers service. In January 2013 98 per cent of Unison members working for quango Skills Development Scotland disagreed that the web-based service was resulting in a better service.

Skills Development Scotland Operations Director Danny Logue said: “SDS has qualified careers advisers working in every state secondary school in Scotland across all year groups – this is a very different picture from the rest of the UK.

“As the national skills agency, we have a wealth of labour market information which is used by our careers advisers when they meet young people.

“Our advisers’ focus is on providing young people with the skills to manage their careers, considering their own interests and strengths that will support this – rather than listing available job types.

“Our own survey of pupils showed that 93% told us our advice helped them into uni, college, training or work.”

The better news from the survey is that teens in Scotland are more optimistic about work prospects than those in the rest of the UK – with 56 per cent thinking it likely they will have a job in their chosen field in ten years.