Teenagers aren’t being imaginative enough with their ambitions as they aspire to a shortlist of 20th-century occupations in their future careers, according to the OECD.
Huge changes in the world of work — driven by developments in technology and social media — are having too little impact on the job expectations of young people, according to a report presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos by the Paris-based organization.
“It is a concern that more young people than before appear to be picking their dream job from a small list of the most popular, traditional occupations, like teachers, lawyers or business managers,” Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director for Education and Skills, said in a statement. “Too many teenagers are ignoring or are unaware of new types of jobs that are emerging, particularly as a result of digitalization.”
The report cited a survey of 15-year-olds showing that career ambitions narrowed in the last two decades. Roughly half of boys and girls from 41 countries said they expect to work in one of just 10 jobs by the age of 30. Such roles originate overwhelmingly from the 19th and 20th centuries, such as doctors, teachers, veterinarians, business managers, engineers, police officers, and lawyers.
“I expect to be a lawyer because I like money and helping people,” the report cited Chloe, a 16-year-old British girl, as saying.
The report also said that 39% of jobs that teenagers want to do run the risk of being replaced by machines within the next 10 to 15 years. That proportion was particularly high in non-English speaking, non-Nordic countries. In Japan and the Slovak Republic, for instance, as many as half of the roles young people aspire to are at risk of extinction.
“Many young people, particularly boys and teenagers from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, anticipate pursuing jobs that are at high risk of being automated,” Schleicher said.
The report underscores the danger that the labor market could shape up as a missed opportunity for many young people, risking discontent in a world already disjointed by resurgent populism. It also highlights how countries specialized in traditional industries could fall behind in the absence of new talent and innovations.
While many of the top jobs listed aren’t vulnerable to automation, several are not very accessible. Young people’s career aspirations are frequently misaligned with the education and qualifications required to achieve them, the OECD said. Chloe’s ambition to be a lawyer, a job normally requiring years of university-level study, is one example.
“My plan after I leave school is to get a job with training — an apprenticeship,” she was cited as saying.