Teenage career dreams ‘need reality check’

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New research commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) to highlight its Education Maintenance Allowance shows many teenagers are in need of a reality check when it comes to pursuing their dream career.

The research reveals that 24% of London teenagers believe that education is not important in achieving their goals; and only 42% believe that getting the right training to improve their skills will help them achieve what they want in life.

In addition, 22% of the capital's 16-18 year olds questioned in the survey believe it is easy to secure a career in entertainment while 25% feel the same applies to sport – a perception possibly influenced by the seemingly easy path to fame followed by the likes of David Beckham, Lily Allen or Leona Lewis.

The survey results also show that many teenagers see perceived "instant careers", such as being a footballer, a TV celebrity or a pop-star, as being far cooler than becoming a teacher, a politician or a chef, which appear to require more hard work.

The most popular careers include those in media, entertainment, sport, and healthcare, while the least popular careers included those in the military, construction, manufacturing, sales and government.

However, the reality is that most jobs, whether they are looked upon as being cool or not, require good levels of qualifications.

In fact, for those interested in pursuing a career in the music or media industries, achieving Level 2 is a prerequisite even for an entry point position. For example, to be a runner in music production or broadcasting, a Level 2 Audio-Visual Industries Induction is desirable.

Highly competitive industries such as advertising will not even consider applicants unless they have a Higher National Diploma or a degree.

Jonny South of Air Management, which counts Jamie Cullum and Jason Mraz amongst its artists, agrees that hard work and the right qualifications are vital to success. He says: "It has not been easy to get where I am today. To succeed in this industry you must have determination and hunger to go after the job you desire.

"At Air we've worked hard to establish long-standing relationships with artists and clients and it shows in our roster, with the likes of Jamie Cullum choosing our services; but we need people with the right skills and qualifications behind us to make it a success.”

Fewer than half of the London teenagers questioned in the survey stated that a high level of education or skills was a key to securing their dream job: 38% would trust their natural ability and 43% would rely on being in the right place at the right time rather than work to secure the correct qualifications or skills required to reach their goals.

When asked what, if anything, would help them stay on in education, respondents stated that more support from their friends and family (17%) and more time (13%) would be a good start; while nearly half (48%) replied that financial support would be the biggest help overall, showing that funding such as Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) can help.

EMA exists to encourage young people aged 16-18 who have left, or are about to leave, compulsory education, to carry on in learning. Eligible young people can receive up to £30 a week to spend on their studies.

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