Schools have the biggest influence on young people’s career path – study

More than a third of 18-24-year-olds say that encouragement from school was key to choosing their career path, underlining education’s central role in closing tech’s gender skills gap

Encouragement from schools is the biggest influence on the career path of 18-24-year-olds, according to a new study.

More than a third (37%) attributed their professional direction to encouragement from school in the Diversity in Tech Report published by emerging talent partner, mthree.

The finding underlines the key role formative education will be required to play in any closing of tech’s gender skills gap.

“Whilst it’s great to see the significant role that educational establishments have in encouraging students to pursue a career in technology, it also highlights how students with potential could be missed if schools do not advocate career paths such as that of tech,” said Becs Roycroft, senior director at mthree.

“When you consider the diversity problem tech and many other sectors are currently experiencing, addressing the gender imbalance by looking at young people’s motivations for when they chose a career can go some way to resolving the problem.”

The survey of 2,000 young people also found that friends and role models have a marginally greater influence over girls’ career choices than boys’.

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Thirteen percent of girls were inspired to venture down a tech career path by their friends, as opposed to 8% of boys. High profile figures or role models accounted for 13% of girls’ choice of professional direction, compared to 9% for boys.

“Our findings are a further reminder of how, to attract women to pursue careers in the sector, recognisable role models and positive representations of women in the industry are essential,” added Roycroft.

“Introducing role models to young girls whilst at school, arranging for inspirational leaders in the field to come in and to discuss their role, can encourage students – and girls in particular – to see the wide breadth of opportunity that the sector can offer.

“Similarly, for businesses, having a greater presence at recruitment fairs and university open days can be a keyway to not only introduce those to the sector, but also as a great opportunity to identify candidates that may have the necessary skills.

“By demonstrating the extensive opportunities within technology and understanding young people’s motivations when considering a career, the technology sector can welcome more suitable candidates that have the relevant skills to thrive within the industry.”

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