The career aspirations of young adolescent boys and girls

The career aspirations of young adolescent boys and girls

Jennifer Baxter

LSAC ASR 2016 chapter— August 2017
young girl with trainer

Key findings

When asked about their career aspirations, six in ten Australian 14-15 years olds knew what job they would like to have in the future. Of these, 60% aspired to professional or managerial jobs (jobs that make up 35% of the current labour market). Fewer 14-15 year olds (14%) wanted to work in areas such as retail, hospitality and administration (jobs that make up nearly half of the current labour market). 

Those with higher educational aspirations, higher achievement or higher family socio-economic status very often desired a professional job, if they knew what career they wanted.  However, some 14-15 year olds aspired to jobs that they would not be able to achieve with the level of education they expected to reach.  

As many as 40% of 14-15 year olds did not know what job they wanted to have in the future. About half of those who expected to complete no post-school qualifications were uncertain about their future job. This group was also the least likely to be talking to others about future jobs.

What jobs do girls and boys aspire to?

  • Both boys and girls were attracted to the medical and science professions, and jobs in design, planning and architecture. However, there were other marked gender differences in choices of professional jobs. For example:
    • Boys often wanted to work in engineering or transport; in information and communications technology; or in construction.
    • Girls ranked being educators, lawyers and social professionals such as counsellors among their top career choices.
  • Boys were much more likely than girls to want a trade or technical job, such as a mechanic or builder. Girls were more likely than boys to want a job in personal services, such as hairdresser and beautician.
  • A number of boys and girls referred to glamorous or "fantasy" occupations. For example, about one in ten said they would like to work in a job that involved sports or performance arts.

Publication details

LSAC ASR 2016 chapter
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, August 2017.

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