Exploring their passions, making money, and job satisfaction are equally driving Irish teenagers in the careers to which they aspire.

The factors behind their job interests are revealed in a survey of 513 second-level students in which more than two-thirds offered a view that teachers use more technology in the classroom.

The tech-savvy students also acknowledge the distraction of social networking and its impact on homework and study.

The details are from research for BT Ireland which yesterday launched its 2017 Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.

Close to 60% of students are motivated by the level of enjoyment in a job, earning potential, and the chance to explore their passions when considering future career options. While these are also the three biggest considerations for parents around their children’s decisions, they are emphasised by slightly fewer of them.

Parents and teenagers place similar levels of focus on the chance to learn and progress in a field, whether there are jobs in Ireland, and perceptions of job security. But while close to half of students rate the opportunity to travel in their career interests, this is a factor for just one in four parents.

Another major disparity is apparent over what would benefit a child’s education and inform career choices. Fewer than one third of parents see the benefit of being able to study only the subjects they enjoy. More parents saw greater value in work placement, more or better career guidance, advice from industry workers, and the opportunity to learn more practical skills.

Studying only the subjects they like is seen by 59% of students as a potential benefit. They also see far greater benefit than their parents in the idea of less homework and more emphasis on evening and weekend relaxation.

Gymnast and BT ambassador Kieran Behan helped launch the 2017 BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

“I’m a huge advocate of anything that inspires and encourages young people to pursue their dreams as I was always encouraged to,” said Kieran after demonstrating some of the skills that have seen him qualify for his second Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Sports science was one of the more popular choices of students from a list of science, engineering, technology, and maths (STEM) careers they were asked would appeal to them. It fell well behind the highest-ranked medical researcher, but ahead of working on a beauty brand or engineer, animator, astronaut, robot developer, or meteorologist.

Organisers of the exhibition said the mix of responses show that students are thinking of science beyond its traditional form and in a broad range of careers.

The theme of the 2017 event is ‘Dream it, Do it’, a concept explored in the survey.

More than two-thirds of parents said they encourage their children to dream big and explore all avenues when considering career options. Just one in seven claim they would try to teach their children to be realistic about their career options, and fewer than one in 10 would like their children to take time out after school to explore their passions.

The BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition takes place on January 11-14.


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