What do you want to be when you grow up?

Why our children’s aspirations are out of touch with reality


The findings are astonishing. A new report by Education & Employers shows a huge disconnect between young people’s career aspirations and the realities of the job market. So, what’s going wrong? And how can we best prepare students entering the world of work?

Those jobs just arent there

Five times as many young people want to work in art, culture, entertainment and sport as there are jobs available. Whilst the majority of young people are certain about their job choices, the jobs just aren’t there… or at least not in those quantities.

What’s more, the jobs to which children aspire aged 7-8 are the very same jobs mentioned at age 17-18, because exposure to other jobs is limited. Whilst we want to encourage young children to ‘dream big’, the comedown for teenagers confronted with the reality of most work settings is likely to result in frustration, wasted effort and disengagement.

We need earlier, more consistent career advice

The report indicated that access to high quality, independent and impartial careers advice was too little too late, suggesting that primary schoolchildren need to meet a range of people from different backgrounds doing a variety of jobs, rather than waiting until secondary school to begin discussing careers.

We need to get employers involved

Many children don’t undertake work experience until the age of sixteen. But studies show that careers-related learning in primary schools gave children more of a passion for learning and tackled stereotypes and misunderstandings when it came to different types of job. What’s more, young people with links to employers are likely to earn more and less likely to be in NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). In other words, the more exposure children have to the types of jobs available, the less of a ‘cliff-edge’ children are likely to encounter when moving from full-time education to work.

We need to focus on skills, not job titles

One office looks much like another, especially to children and teenagers. We need to give young people the language to identify describe the skills they already have and how those might be applied, so that they can find their own fit in the world of work.

Belbin GetSet is a tool which asks young people key questions grounded in their experiences of individual and project working to date. The GetSet Report identifies key behaviours which might influence the young person’s working styles, in communicating, learning and interacting with others. The guidance and advice provided forms part of a workbook, helping the child to articulate their strengths, identify real-life examples of those behaviours in action and build a personal statement based on what they discover. The workbook promotes self-understanding, confidence and wellbeing, and allows the individual to bridge the gap between education and work.

Belbin Team Roles is a reputable framework used throughout industry. By introducing this framework to students, we’re already seeing young people better equipped for higher education, work placements, apprenticeships and job interviews.

Why not check out a GetSet Report or contact us today to find out more about what Belbin GetSet can do?