During the last two decades we have experienced major changes in the world of work. However, these do not affect the expectations of young people regarding their studies and future careers. Would you be able to say which professions are most attractive to young people?
A recent report from the OECD shows that these changes and the growing importance of technology in the workplace do not affect the expectations and interests of students. Specifically, it states that 49% of boys and 56% of girls surveyed in 41 countries aspire to pursue a short list of professions. In the specific case of Spain, 39% of the jobs chosen by the respondents are highly likely to be automated. For them, the ideal jobs are psychologists, teachers or doctors, and among them, car mechanics, ICT professions, and police work are the most appealing.
Traditional occupations of the 20th century and even the 19th century, such as doctors, teachers, veterinarians, business managers, police officers or firefighters, continue to capture the imagination of young people as they did almost 20 years ago, before the era of social media and the acceleration of technologies like artificial intelligence in the workplace.
In his intervention at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), the Director of Education at the OECD, Andreas Schleicher, said: "It is worrying that more young people than before seem to be choosing their dream job from a small list of the most popular and traditional occupations: teachers, lawyers or entrepreneurs." This is a clear sign that too many teenagers ignore or are unaware of the new types of work that are emerging.
The widest range of professional aspirations is found in countries with a solid and structured vocational training for teenagers. In Germany and Switzerland, for example, only three out of ten young people are interested in just ten jobs. German teenagers show a much wider range of professional interests compared to the average, demonstrating that they better reflect the patterns of demand in the labor market.
This data reveals that lack of guidance limits students' career options.
In relation to this, Anthony Mann, lead author of the study, concludes that in Spain, the problem is not only that Spanish students participate little in professional development activities, but also the huge number of students per counselor; (while UNESCO recommends 1 counselor for every 250 students, currently this figure increases to 750).
According to Educaweb, among the most practiced guidance activities, we can highlight fairs and educational events, orientation in schools by counselors, visits and internships in companies (job shadowing) or strength and skills tests. However, in any of these activities, Spaniards make less use than the average, with Internet searches being the most used resource.
Given the little weight of guidance in Spanish education and the lack of significant resources, it would be logical to think that young people's expectations do not change over time. If we want this to change, "we must not only encourage and promote guidance techniques, but also professionalize them by keeping teachers and counselors updated on jobs and future needs," says Ana Cobos, President of the Confederation of Psychopedagogy and Guidance Organizations of Spain (COPOE). It is necessary for this to have reliable sources of information, addressing not only how future jobs will be, but also the transformation that some of them will undergo. Additionally, as Juan José Juárez, Senior Project Manager of the Bertelsmann Foundation, states, "it is necessary to delimit and clarify the roles of guidance, expanding the understanding of the labor market for both teachers and students."
At Singularity Experts, we believe that effective career guidance should focus on helping students know what they want to become, by knowing themselves first. This way, we allow them to focus on developing skills and knowledge with clear and realistic expectations, also obtaining a more positive and proactive attitude towards learning.
Through our intensive profiling system, in which we measure 50 critical dimensions and our own mapping of +3,000 future jobs (jobs with high levels of employability and already demanded by companies), we are able to tell each student the 10 jobs that they would excel at based on their profile. For each of these jobs, they will receive the 10 training paths they should pursue, including both technical and humanistic training.
In addition, for this segment of young people who are disoriented and uninformed about the future of work, we recommend soft skills, essential for their performance. These are interpersonal skills that are developed through practice; you can learn more about them in our post on "the most demanded skills by companies today."
In this way, we not only seek to offer relevant and future-oriented guidance, but also to promote critical thinking among young people about the relationship between the decisions they make today and how these will affect the future. The challenge is to make guidance and education a profession for workers with advanced knowledge so that we can anticipate these needs and ensure that our society's training is truly aligned with the market.