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47% of girls choose university

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Only a third of jobs require a degree

With A-Level results looming, new research has been released, revealing that 40% of young people are choosing a university education, compared to 35% at the same time last year. The research from City & Guilds also showed a sharp gender divide – with 47% of girls aged 17-19 considering going to university, compared to just 31% of boys.

According to the research, girls are more concerned with future earnings. Fifty-four percent base their post-school choice on what they believe is the best route to getting a good job with a good salary. In comparison, only 44% of boys made decisions in this manner.

Interestingly, a labour market analysis from Lightcast revealed that only 29% of UK jobs require a degree qualification, meaning that young people could be setting themselves up for unnecessary debt without a clear career trajectory.

Young people appear to be basing their education choices on perceived career prospects. City & Guilds urges schools to provide strong career advice based on current labour market insight, ensuring that the youth, their parents, and teachers know all available options.

The research also revealed differences between the influences that sway young people’s career choices. For example, girls are more likely to be influenced by their family (42%) than just 23% of boys. However, boys are almost twice as likely as girls to choose based on what they’ve seen on TV or social media.

The research also looked at the impact of rising costs on young people’s decisions. Fifty-six percent of 17-19-year-old respondents said that the rising cost of living has made them reconsider the career they might pursue post-school or college. Sixty-seven percent said that they are thinking more about salary when considering potential careers. A further 60% plan to spend longer in full-time education to assist them in getting a better-paid job in the future.

David Phillips, Managing Director of City & Guilds, commented: “It’s crucial that both young men and women have access to robust and up-to-date careers advice that gives a true image of today’s labour market and challenges outdated gender stereotypes about careers. This will ensure school leavers know what is most likely to lead to a good job when they are making choices about their futures. We have seen from our research that both boys and girls are heavily influenced by those in their networks, so it’s vital that parents, and teachers, are made aware of the breadth of educational and training routes, outside of the traditional academic ones, that can lead to rewarding and well-paid jobs.”

“It’s reassuring to see that young people are already thinking ahead about the career options available to them. However, as the UK battles against a volatile labour market, with a potential recession on the horizon and a cost-of-living crisis, ahead of this year’s results day, it’s more important than ever that young people make informed decisions about their futures.

“While university is the right path for some, it’s certainly not the only option. Our recent Great Jobs research shone a light on the essential jobs that make up 50% of all UK employment opportunities – many of which rely on vocational routes such as traineeships, apprenticeships and T Levels. As young people look to invest in their future, we encourage them to consider the full breadth of options available so they can identify which path is right for them.”

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