In Just One Year, Students Show Shift in Interests – Moving toward STEM, Away from Entertainment.
– Ongoing nationwide survey helps BSA’s Exploring program match career experiences with student interests, high-demand career opportunities.
– Top 10 most-popular careers show year-over-year shift with computer programmer jumping 14 spots to No. 3; veterinarian and teacher replace singer and actor.
– Popularity of STEM careers rose, with 52 percent of students expressing interest in 2017, compared to 45 percent in 2016.
– GE among top companies introducing students to career options through Exploring posts.
IRVING, Texas, Aug. 22, 2018 – As the school year gets underway, Exploring, the youth career-development program created by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), is closely examining how best to bridge students’ interests with future in-demand jobs. Today, the program released the findings of its Career Interest Survey, offering insight into the aspirations of the future workforce. This year revealed several year-over-year changes – STEM professions moved up, claiming the top three careers youth are most interested in, and entertainment careers dropped from the top 10 list completely.
The survey, which helps Exploring develop real-life job experiences that combine student interests with in-demand career opportunities, was fielded in 2017 to more than 32,000 students from 8th through 12th grades. More than 200 career options were offered to enable a broad view of student interests – and an indicator as to where talent gaps may appear in the years ahead.
The top 10 list of most popular careers got quite a shakeup in 2017. Overall, interest in STEM-related professions, including health-care careers, jumped to 52 percent in 2017, versus 45 percent in 2016, with interest shifting away from pop-culture careers. For instance, physician and computer programmer replaced professional athlete and artist for the second- and third-place positions. Singer, actor, photographer, and athletic trainer completely dropped from the top 10 list, making room for the newcomers: computer programmer, mechanical engineer, teacher, attorney, and computer engineer
The top 10 most popular careers from the 2017 survey were:
- Registered Nurse (ranked #1 in 2016)
- Physician/Surgeon (ranked #6 in 2016)
- Computer Programmer (new to the top 10 list)
- Veterinarian (ranked #8 in 2016)
- Professional Athlete (ranked #2 in 2016)
- Mechanical Engineer (new to the top 10 list)
- Teacher (new to the top 10 list)
- Artist (ranked #3 in 2016)
- Attorney (new to the top 10 list)
- Computer Engineer (new to the top 10 list)
“It’s encouraging to see a positive shift in interest toward STEM careers in just one year given concerns surrounding the shortage of STEM talent across a variety of industries,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. “Through Exploring, we introduce youth to real-world STEM career experiences so the jobs of the future are familiar and within reach as they are making decisions about their educational and career paths.”
Whether it’s learning alongside doctors in the medical field, or using open source code to create 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for people in need, students are in an optimal position to benefit from hands-on STEM field experiences. These young people can immediately take what they’re learning in school and put it to use in real-world settings in a meaningful way. Through this kind of experiential education, young men and women are better able to see themselves in the full spectrum of STEM careers available to them.
“At GE, we know that the future STEM workforce is critical to innovations yet to be discovered, so we take seriously our role in helping young people spark an interest in pursuing a STEM career,” said John McDonald, Smart Grid Business Development Leader at GE Power’s Grid Solutions business and Exploring leader. “That’s why we partnered with Exploring – to give students real-world opportunities and experiences that open them up to a world of exciting and fulfilling careers.”
Interest Lags in Other High-Growth Fields
Both men and women showed a lag in interest toward other high-growth career fields, including lesser-known STEM positions such as statistician, software developer, mathematician and information security analyst; and fields related to renewable energy, like solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians.
“These results will help us focus Exploring’s efforts in the years ahead to help students learn about high-demand careers they perhaps were unaware of or uncertain about,” said Diane Thornton, National Director of Exploring. “They also provide an indicator to industries as to where they can focus education and recruiting initiatives. By collaborating our efforts, we can help students discover paths to high-potential careers, while at the same time working to avoid potential labor shortages in areas critical to our nation’s growth.”
About the Exploring Program
The Exploring program is available to youth through Learning for Life, an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that provides character, leadership and career education programs through sponsoring agencies or groups. The Exploring program is currently offered nationwide, serving young men and women from middle school through high school. To learn more about Exploring and experience all that this program has to offer youth, business leaders and the community, visit www.exploring.org.
About the Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America provides the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, which helps young people be “Prepared. For Life.®” The Scouting organization is composed of nearly 2.3 million youth members between the ages of 5 and 21 and approximately 960,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories. For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit www.scouting.org.
About GE Power
GE Power is a world energy leader providing equipment, solutions and services across the energy value chain from generation to consumption. Operating in more than 180 countries, our technology produces a third of the world’s electricity, equips 90 percent of power transmission utilities worldwide, and our software manages more than forty percent of the world’s energy. Through relentless innovation and continuous partnership with our customers, we are developing the energy technologies of the future and improving the power networks we depend on today. For more information please visit www.ge.com/power, and follow GE Power on Twitter and on LinkedIn.
Survey Methodology: A total of 32,855 respondents were surveyed in 2017. A total of 31,115 respondents completed the survey online, and the balance completed the survey using a paper Scantron form. In total, the students could pick from 209 careers grouped into 12 categories.