Young Adults: Career In Tech? No Thanks!

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Downers Grove, Ill. — June 18

The love affair teenagers and young adults have with technology doesn’t necessarily translate into interest in a career in information technology, according to a recent study.

While 97 percent of teens and young adults report loving or liking technology, just 18 percent report a definitive interest in a career in IT, according to a study titled “Youth Opinions of Careers in IT” by CompTIA, a nonprofit association for the IT industry. The study is based on an online survey of 1,002 U.S. teens and young adults, and was conducted between March 27 and April 2, 2012.

Though a relatively small pool of students is interested in IT careers, the CompTIA research reveals a much larger pool of “maybes” — 38 percent of girls and 48 percent of boys. Lack of familiarity with the IT field is cited as a primary factor contributing to low interest in the career path.

Interest levels jump when teens and young adults are presented with options for specific jobs. Nearly half of the respondents can see themselves potentially designing video games; 41 percent envision creating applications for mobile devices; 39 percent, designing Web pages; and 34 percent, applying technology in fields such as health care or education. In fact, six in 10 respondents perceive an IT career as an opportunity to help people.

“It’s sometimes easy to overlook the vital creative, collaborative and problem-solving elements of technology work as well as the diversity of occupations within the field,” said Carolyn April, director, industry analysis, CompTIA.

This lack of understanding of the variety of career options in the IT field is reflected in other findings in the study. For example, 21 percent of respondents perceive the job as working alone in front of a computer all day. Additionally, only 26 percent believe IT occupations are in demand — despite evidence to the contrary from job boards and other surveys.

When asked if they have firsthand knowledge of what’s it’s like to work in IT — based on a family member or friend working in the industry — 61 percent say they do not.

More Choices, More Decisions
The information economy has generated a host of new occupational categories.

“Mobile app developers, digital content curators, ethical hackers and big data analysts are just a few examples of the career options available today that weren’t present just a few years ago,” April said. “Teens and young adults face a bewildering set of options.”

Today’s teens and young adults recognize the importance of post-secondary education and training. Four out of five students in the CompTIA study hope to pursue a four-year college education; 9 percent plan to attend a two-year college; and 7 percent a technical or trade school.

The study also finds that teens and young adults may be preparing for technology careers without realizing it. Nearly six in 10 serve as technology facilitators and troubleshooters for their family and friends. An additional one-third provide occasional tech support for problems with computers, software, mobile devices or related technologies.

“This hands-on experience will serve them well, even if they don’t opt for a career in a technology field,” April said. “In the information economy, technical literacy is a prerequisite for many occupations, even beyond technology positions.”

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