Technology has been identified as the most promising career sector for young people aged 16-25 across the UK, according to research by Intuit QuickBooks.
Based on a survey of more than 1,000 16–25-year-olds across the nation, conducted between 30 October and 2 November this year, the research also revealed that young people view tech-based professions as the most future-proof, with 40% of respondents citing it as such. Construction came in second at just 27%.
On top of this, almost a fifth (19%) of the youth surveyed claimed they already had a career in technology, while 34% said they were considering it – a figure that grew to 38% among those aged 16–19.
Of those who said they were interested but not currently considering a career move, not knowing how to get a job in the field was cited as the biggest barrier to doing so (32%); followed by never having received any information about the sector from careers advisors etc. (30%). A quarter (25%) also said they couldn’t afford to undertake the necessary training or qualifications to land a job in the field.
The COVID-19 impact
Almost two-thirds (63%) of 16–25s said their future academic plans had been put on hold or altered following the coronavirus outbreak, shining a light on the ongoing employment uncertainty caused by the pandemic, which is disproportionately affecting young people across the UK.
“With COVID-19 causing economic uncertainty and driving unemployment levels, young people are increasingly looking for ways to fast-track onto the careers ladder. And getting straight into the tech sector, which has proven to be resilient in the face of the pandemic, is particularly appealing. Technology, after all, is the fuel that has allowed many other sectors to continue operating,” said Ben Brown, head of engineering at Intuit QuickBooks.
Careers-focused learning is king
With more than half a million young people currently out of work (House of Commons Youth Employment Statistics, 13 October 2020) – a surge of 35,000 compared to the previous quarter – six in 10 (61%) respondents aged 16–25 agreed that learning ‘on-the-job’ is the most surefire way to land a role in the current climate.
“On-the-job learning is common in the tech sector, but to be a successful candidate, applicants need to demonstrate genuine interest and enthusiasm by having carried out their own independent learning. Employers can enable this by creating opportunities for young people to take part in free training courses and taster sessions, which helps them gain valuable skills and decide if the sector is for them,” added Mr Brown.
If they were to pursue higher education, 59% of participants said they would rather pursue a subject relevant to a specific profession over one they’re good at or enjoy, while nearly a third (31%) would only consider studying for a degree that would help them secure a role in a sector that’s likely to grow.
However, almost half (45%) of respondents said they are now reconsidering the prospect of attending university at all, with more than a quarter (26%) stating they felt it more important to get a job than a degree, while 19% don’t want to go to university due to various health and safety concerns.
Despite this, remote learning has fast become the new norm, with more than a quarter (28%) of 16–25s stating they now plan to pursue an online degree over attending a physical campus university.