This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

September 15, 2004

Teens Shun Fastest Growing Careers

As we continue to move into the most severe shortage of skilled labor in history, we know where many employment opportunities will be. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected which occupations will grow, which will have the greatest need for workers, and what employers will be looking for. Unfortunately, surveys of teen-agers reveal that their career objectives are not consistent with the needs of the future employment market.

A Job Shadow/Harris Interactive poll reports that more than half (51 percent) of teens have no interest in pursuing the top five fastest growing career fields, determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to have critical workforce needs in this decade and beyond. A 2003 Junior Achievement poll reports that nearly 13 percent of teens selected "business person" as their ideal job, twice the number who selected "doctor" (6.5 percent), and "computer field" (4.9 percent).

This younger generation is entrepreneurial; a strong 70 percent want to own their own business sometime during their lives. They're optimistic, expecting to reach their life goals. However, they are also realistic and conservative, not expecting to achieve the high income figures of the preceding generation. While they seem to be less materialistic, nearly three quarters of the respondents believe that a four-year college degree or a graduate degree is essential to obtain their ideal career goals.

Reflecting a trend we have seen in the current workforce, the teenagers chose family and fun over money in level of importance to them. Nearly 65 percent voted for less money and more time for family and fun over more money with an investment of more time. This data is consistent with other research where 48 percent of today's workers made the same choice. Money is no longer the primary motivator. This trend will alter methods employers use to attract, encourage, and hold top talent.

In the years ahead, recruiters will find new ways to reach kids at younger ages, to convince them to explore career alternatives that will be starving for young workers.

For a deeper look at the Junior Achievement research, visit

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