Tech jobs offer dream careers for boys but girls look elsewhere

Jobs in technology-related areas are the preferred career choices for 11 to 18 year olds in the UK, a new study has found.

According to the survey by domain name registry Nominet, the top three dream careers were game developer (cited by 25% of respondents), app developer (13%) and website developer (13%).

These tech-based jobs were more popular than careers such as sports professionals (10%), musician (7%) and fashion designer (7%). They also scored higher than traditional careers such as medicine (6.3%) and law (6%).

When viewed by gender however, it appears that the tech-related jobs are boosted by their popularity amongst boys. The top five dream careers for boys are game developer (36.5%), app developer (17.2%), website developer (15.1%), sportsman (14.6%) and entrepreneur (13.4%).

For girls the top five jobs were fashion designer (13%), graphic designer (12.9%), teacher (12.8%), game developer (12.3%) and entrepreneur (11.5%).

Despite efforts to decrease the gender gap in STEM subjects and related careers, the study suggests that attitudes to tech-based subjects still begin at an early age and continue into the workplace.

According to the Engineering UK Report 2015, girls and boys score almost equally in physics at school level, with roughly the same proportion achieving A* to C grades. Only a fifth of A-level physics students are female however. The gender divide becomes even more pronounced at degree level. In the 2012-2013 academic year, only 12.9% of applicants for engineering degrees were female.

Encouraging more girls to take STEM subjects would be one way to improve the persistent skills gap in tech-related areas. A study by IT skills and training body CompTIA found that 44% of IT executives feared staff productivity was being adversely affected by the digital skills gap. These are all issues that could impede growth and, at worst, leave a company facing insolvency or requiring turnaround management.

30% said a lack of skills was impacting on customer services. Just over a quarter (27%) said IT skills gaps were slowing speed to market and 26% said they were hampering innovation and new ideas.

By Phil Smith

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