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Doctors, teachers, business managers: Gen Z’s career aspirations

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Despite huge changes to the world of work, today’s teenagers still aspire towards traditional 20th century and even 19th century occupations such as doctors, teachers, business managers, engineers, and police officers, a new OECD report revealed.

The report titled “Dream jobs: Teenagers’ career aspirations and the future of work found that 47% of boys and 53 % of girls surveyed in 41 countries (including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand) expected to work in one of just 10 popular jobs by age of 30.

These jobs include: doctors, teachers, business managers, engineers, lawyers, police officers, ICT professionals, nursing and midwives, designers, as well as psychologists.

Based on the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey of 15-year-olds released last month, the figures revealed a narrowing of expectations. These shares increased by eight percentage points for boys and four percentage points for girls since the 2000 PISA survey.

According to the report, the narrowing of job choices is driven by young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds and by those who were weaker performers in the PISA tests in reading, mathematics and science.



Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the findings were discussed, OECD Education Director, Andreas Schleicher said: “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. The surveys show that too many teenagers are ignoring or are unaware of new types of jobs that are emerging, particularly as a result of digitalisation.”

The report also found the following:

  • Gender continues to exert a strong influence.
    Among students who score highly in the PISA tests, it is overwhelmingly boys who more often expect to work in science and engineering.
  • High achievers do not always aim to their potential.
    High-performing young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds are, on average, four time less likely to hold ambitious aspirations than those with high PISA scores from the most privileged social backgrounds.
  • Countries with strong, established vocational training for teenagers reported a broader range of career aspirations. 
    German teenagers show a much wider range of career interests, which better reflect actual patterns of labour market demand. In Indonesia, on the other hand 52% of girls and 42% of boys anticipate one of just three careers –business managers, teachers and, among girls, doctors or, among boys, the armed forces.

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