Confident school leavers want money, not fame

21 November 2014
  • Issued on behalf of London First and the Mayor of London

  • Poll of over 500 16-year-olds shows their ideal jobs are not what you might think – and nor are their salary expectations

New research into the career aspirations of young Londoners show they are not fame-hungry reality TV wannabes, but would rather be medics, software developers and engineers. It also found that young people are surprisingly optimistic about the chances of landing their ideal job - and a hefty pay packet – after several torrid years for youth employment prospects.

Almost half expect to be earning more than £40,000 after five years of work, whereas the average earnings for someone 22-29-years-old and in full time work in the UK is currently £21,196. (ONS statistics).

The jobs that proved most popular, ranging from doctors, to software developers, and engineers, are just the skills London needs to thrive as a 21st Century city, according to the research for Skills London, the UK’s biggest free youth jobs and careers event, taking place 21-22 November at ExCeL.

While the traditional ‘Don’t Know’ still featured highly, only one respondent said they wanted to be a ‘YouTuber’, and even ‘footballer’ came in well down the list of ideal jobs, in 16th place.

Top lines from the research include:

- Almost exactly 50% of student respondents said they were either ‘very confident’ or ‘confident’ of getting their ideal job. While a sizeable chunk were unsure, only one in six (16%) were either ‘unconfident’ or ‘very unconfident’.

- When it comes to getting any job after finishing education the ‘very confident’ and ‘confident’ responses rise to 60%, however, so do the ‘unconfident’ and ‘very unconfident’ responses to 21% (both at the expense of the ‘unsures’).

- Good qualifications are thought to be the thing most valued by employers, followed by good employability skills and then work experience. This doesn’t necessarily chime with what employers say.

- When it comes to earnings, there seemed to be a good deal of realism amongst students for the short term. 28% said they wanted to earn £15,000 - £19,999 in their first year of work. A further 27% expect £20,000 - £29,999. (see note below on actual earnings from ONS)

- However, after five years their expectations rise considerably and are far higher than reality. 18% said they expected to earn £20,000-£29,999 after five years, 27% expect £30,000-£39,999, while a whopping 47% expect to be earning £40,000+ after five years of work. (again, see note below on actual earnings from ONS)

The results will form the basis of a special panel event featuring Boris Johnson, where young students will quiz the Mayor, as well as leading employers, about their job prospects.

The panel marks the opening of Skills London, where we’re expecting to welcome over 30,000 16-24-year-olds come through the doors at ExCeL over two days. It’s free for them to attend and there will be around 45,000 jobs and apprenticeships on offer with the employers exhibiting there.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said the capital’s future depended on getting young people into the sort of jobs that will continue to drive London forward as a leading city. “It is great to see so many young Londoners are confident they have the skills to fit the bill,” he said. “To those who are less sure about finding work, I say get down to Excel and talk to the folks at Skills London, who can put you face-to-face with potential employers and help get you onto the career ladder.”

Mark Hilton, Director of Skills at business group London First, which organises Skills London, said after several tough years there was an increased sense of optimism returning to young job seekers. “The number of young students who think they will land not just a job, but their ideal job, easily outnumbers those who lack confidence in their chances,” he said. “The research also shows London’s young students are not the reality TV obsessed, fame-seeking wannabes that they are so often caricatured as.

“The careers that most aspire to are just the skills London needs to thrive as a 21st Century city, such as software developers, engineers, and medics .“

A selection of quotes from children involved in the survey. These particular respondents are all 16-years-old and from a school in Forest Gate in East London Phillip – “I think that getting a job is easier today than it was in the past. We have a better understanding of the wide range of jobs that are available to us and there are many more jobs available to us now than in the past.

Mudia - “I am quite positive about my future job prospects as I believe that even if there are not enough prospects in my area I can get the grades that I need and go to other areas that do have those resources.”

Richardson – “I am positive about my job prospects however, I don’t believe that there are enough opportunities for those in my area and those of my age group. “In terms of the amount of knowledge provided to us I think it is better than the past. The opportunities for applying for a job are becoming smaller as the country is only just coming out of recession.”

Joshua – “I live in a diverse area with a lot of opportunities and put myself forward for a lot of events. I think that I will get a good job as I like to work for what I believe in. “Many students in my area will have the same education and qualifications and we will be in competition with them.”