This paper asks a simple question: is there any alignment between the career aspirations of young people, aged between 13 and 18, and the best estimates of actual demand within the current and future labour market? The question is relevant to young people, employers and future prosperity. The question is pertinent to young people who make important decisions about their future at ages 14, 16 and 18. Such decisions, about subject options chosen or dropped and experience sought, gained or missed are essential to the ultimate prospects of young people in the jobs market. This paper asks, therefore, whether teenagers, as they make these decisions, do so with career aspirations in mind which reflect realistic opportunities in the world of work.
While this report does not provide a precise comparison of the full breadth of employment opportunities against the understood aspirations of young people, and a regularly repeated study of that character is surely demanded, it does provide the single best insight into teenage aspirations and finds that they have nothing in common with the best estimate of projected labour market demand. Data presented here suggests strongly that the youth labour market is not working efficiently, that employer signalling of opportunities is not being received effectively by young people and that the need to address such information gaps is pressing.