How Young People Will Grow Into the Current Labor Force

Filed Under: Best Practices, Market Research, B2B


Mary McIlrath

Senior Vice President, C+R Alum

Astronaut. Teacher. Ballerina. Doctor. Singer. Few people say “I want to grow up and work in an office,” yet 15 percent of Americans have office/administrative jobs (the largest of 22 segments of the U.S. labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The question is–how much disparity exists between the jobs we dream of and the jobs we’ll most likely get? We polled more than 400 teenagers to find out.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that 20 percent of teens who responded said they want to be involved in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations. Jobs in those fields not only seem fun, but sports, media, and the arts are how teens spend their free time–it makes sense that they’d want to work in a field aligned with their interests. In addition to being perceived as cool jobs, positions in media, art, design, sports, etc., can be very lucrative as well.

Getting paid to do what you love–isn’t that everyone’s dream? Unfortunately, only 2 percent of jobs in the current workforce fall under this category, which means at some point, most adults have to decide to earn a living doing something more readily available and realistic.

Another popular dream job is in the healthcare field. 15 percent of respondents say they’d like a job as healthcare practitioners. Jobs like doctor, nurse, veterinarian, pharmacist, and dentist are considered noble, prestigious, high-earning occupations. Help people and get paid well? Who wouldn’t jump at that opportunity? However, the rigor, length, and incredible expense of additional schooling are some of the biggest deterrents to why only 6 percent of people who want to become a healthcare practitioner actually do.

Some categories are low on the dream-meter, perhaps because the jobs don’t seem glamorous enough, or ambitious enough. Few might say “I want to be in retail sales when I grow up,” or “I want to go to college so I can work in food service, but these types of jobs make up a combined 18 percent of the American workforce. The fact is that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into the convenient, fast-paced lives we take for granted. While no teens responded that they want a job in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations, the infrastructure of our daily lives would collapse without these types of occupations.

From carpenters to marketers, every industry plays an integral part in keeping the American workforce buzzing along.

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