The majority of 15-year-olds living in Australia expect to be working in a professional occupation when they are 30 years old, but there is a large divide between the expectations of students from advantaged and disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, according to a report released today.
The new data analysis is published by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) as part of its Snapshots series – papers that take data from global studies such as PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PIRLS (Progress in Reading Literacy Study) and highlight results from Australian participants on particular topics.
The latest in the series, What are the occupational aspirations of Australian 15-year-olds?, analyses Australian student responses in the most recent 2018 PISA cycle to the question: What kind of job do you expect to have when you are about 30 years old?
At a glance
The report says, when selecting from a list of occupational groups (taken from the International Standard Classification of Occupations 2008), 63 per cent of 15-year-olds expected to be working in a professional occupation when they’re 30. Examples given to students for occupations in this category include lawyer, accountant, teacher, doctor, computer programmer, engineer or scientist.
Approximately one tenth of students (11.4 per cent) said they expect to work in the craft and related trade workers field (for example, as a carpenter, mechanic, tailor or butcher) and another 11 per cent as technicians and associated professionals (such as a dental assistant, nursing associate, insurance agent or web technician).
A further 7.4 per cent indicated they expect to work as service and sales workers (for example, hairdresser, waiter, child care worker or police officers) and 3.1 per cent in managerial positions. The remaining occupation groups students could select from – armed forces; skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers; elementary occupations; plant and machine operators; and clerical support workers – were selected rarely.
Career aspirations by socioeconomic background
The report also analyses responses by gender and by socioeconomic background. The largest divide in occupation groups selected by female and male students were professional occupations (selected by 74.2 per cent of females and 52.8 per cent of males) and in craft and related trade workers (selected by 21.6 per cent of males and 1.1 per cent of females).
When it comes to the career aspirations of 15-year-olds from advantaged and disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, it’s clear they have vastly different outlooks. More than three-quarters of students from an advantaged socioeconomic background (77.1 per cent) said they expect to be working in a professional occupation in the future, compared to 50.6 per cent of students from a disadvantaged background.
For disadvantaged students, the second most popular expected occupational group (behind professionals) was craft and related trade workers, with 18 per cent expecting to work in this field –just 4.6 per cent of students from an advantaged background chose this option. One in 10 (11.2 per cent) of disadvantaged students expect to work in service and sales, compared to 3.6 per cent of advantaged students; and 12.5 per cent of disadvantaged students expect to work in the technicians and associate professionals field, compared to 8.8 per cent of students from an advantaged background.
Top 10 careers
The top 10 most commonly named occupations for female and male students are also revealed in the report. From 1 to 10, the top careers for females are: nurse; teacher; lawyer; psychologist; medical doctor; specialist medical practitioner; veterinarian; physiotherapist; science and engineering careers; and biologist, botanist and zoologist.
For boys, the top 10 were (in order): science and engineering careers; electrician; carpenter and joiner; athlete and sports player; medical doctor; lawyer; graphic and multimedia designer; physiotherapist; teacher; and architect.
To read the full Snapshot report, visit this link.
De Bortoli, L. (2021). What are the occupational aspirations of Australian 15-year-olds? ACER.