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Drawing the future - findings from the largest survey of primary children’s career aspirations

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We’ve partnered with TES, University College London Institute of Education and OECD Education and Skills to launch the biggest ever survey of primary children’s career aspirations.


Children aged seven to eleven were asked to draw a picture of the job they would most like to do when they grow up. Over 20,000 entries from across the globe including the UK, Australia, Belarus, Bangladesh, China, Columbia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Uganda and Zambia. Children were also asked how they knew about the job and whether they knew anyone who was already in that career.


The survey found a marked gender divide in career aspirations, with boys listing ‘sportsman’ (8 per cent), ‘social media’ and ‘gaming’ (9.4 per cent) and teaching within the top choices for girls (18.6 per cent). It is clear that there is more work to do in addressing gender equality in the workplace and that this will be key to inspiring the future workforce.  


In addition to offering a global snapshot, the survey provided some extremely significant findings from the UK. Responses have been analysed to consider the variation of career aspirations by gender, socio-economic background, ethnicity and who they knew from the world of work, media and TV. One underlining factor across responses was the positive influence of primary school children’s exposure to role models from various careers. The report showed that 36 per cent of children from as young as seven, base their career aspirations on people they know. The influence of positive role models on children was found to be key to navigating the world around them; children were also more likely to be aware of the vast range of career options open to them and therefore more open to considering these careers in the future. This has real implications for children who are not exposed to a wide range of successful role models from the world of work.


The survey responses underline the importance of programmes such as Primary Futures. Run by Education and Employers in partnership with NAHT, the programme which connects primary schools with people from a wide range of jobs and different backgrounds.


Follow the conversation around the survey  using the hashtag #DrawingtheFuture.


First published 24 January 2018