A recent poll by the national Job Shadow Coalition shows that more than half (51 percent) of teens have no interest in pursuing the top five fastest-growing career fields, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined will have critical work force needs in this decade and beyond.
Those who are interested in these careers preferred the higher paying, higher education-requiring "computer and data processing" (25 percent) and "health care" (21 percent) fields over lower paying fields such as "residential care" (1 percent), "cable and pay television services" (1 percent), and "personnel services" (1 percent). The scientific poll of 642 teens between the ages of 13 and 17 was conducted in December 2003 by the Job Shadow Coalition and Harris Interactive.
"This startling disconnect between the jobs that teens are interested in and the future needs of employers could have seriously adverse implications for our economy," said Dr. Stuart Shapiro, executive director of the Job Shadow Coalition.
"While it is encouraging that students are interested in the computer and health-care fields, the fact that the majority of teens are not interested in the jobs that will be needed presents real challenges. It shows that we in the educational community need to do a much better job of preparing our kids for the transition from high school to work and higher education."
Teens also were asked to choose from the five highest-paying career fields. Once again, a plurality of respondents favored "computers and mathematics" (19 percent), followed closely by "health care" (17 percent), "law" (15 percent), "architecture and engineering" (10 percent), and "business management" (9 percent). Nearly a third of the respondents were not interested in any of these career fields.
"Pay and opportunities to advance are obviously motivators for today's teens," said Dr. Shapiro. "However, we still see a disconnect because many of these
higher paying careers require higher education and math and science skills. Unfortunately, most of today's teens will enter the workforce without this kind of
preparation. That's why job shadowing is so important. If we can teach today's teens what kinds of education and skills they will need to do jobs they are
interested in, they will be more likely to achieve success in the workplace as adults."
Job shadowing is a yearlong national effort to enrich the lives of students by acquainting them with the world of work through on-the-job experiences and a
carefully crafted school curriculum that ties academics to the workplace. The effort helps young people understand how what they learn in the classroom leads
to success in the workplace.
Kicking off on Groundhog Day, February 2, 2004, more than one million young people will have a chance to explore their futures when they "shadow" workplace
mentors as part of the seventh annual Job Shadow Day initiative. National job shadowing is a coordinated effort of Junior Achievement, America's Promise
The Alliance for Youth, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Monster, News Corporation, and the American Hotel and Lodging Association are the major
co-sponsors. For more information, go to www.jobshadow.org.
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