Confidence in the recovering UK economy has not filtered down to school pupils, according to new research from AIA Worldwide and the Student Room. Almost six-in-10 (58%) under 18-year-olds believe it will be difficult to find work when they leave school, while more than a third (35%) already predict that they will need to settle for a job that is not their first choice.

The research was launched on Friday February 28 at a seminar hosted in London by AIA Worldwide entitled ‘The School Leaver Psyche’ and attended by delegates from 30 blue chip organisations and the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

The study highlights the misconceptions among school age pupils about the world of work, notably that almost a fifth (18%) of respondents believe that apprenticeships are unpaid work. The notion that getting a good job relies on having a degree also persists, with more than three-quarters (77%) of pupils saying that having a degree will give them a stronger chance of getting a job in their chosen field. This is despite a 24% rise in apprenticeship vacancies in the third quarter of 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.

Britain’s younger generation are willing to do what it takes to find work, the research finds, with almost two thirds (65%) saying they would consider moving away from home to find a job or apprenticeship after school and nearly a third (32%) saying that ‘getting a job is easy if you try hard enough’.

When asked about sources of advice for career choices, parents still play an important role in steering their offspring in the right direction. Almost a third (30%) of school pupils said they would like to receive information about jobs or work experience from their parents and 53% would be heavily influenced by their parents on whether to choose university or work after school. Teachers were the second most influential (12%) followed by careers advisors (11%), companies pupils have met (6%) and friends (5%).

Alex Parkes, Future Talent Strategist, AIA Worldwide commented on the research: “It’s concerning that so many young people believe that they will struggle to find work, or will need to settle for their second choice career. The message needs to get through to under 18-year-olds that there are now many different ways to enter their chosen field of work or industry sector, including apprenticeships and work experience.”

In terms of industry sectors respondents would like to work in, the winners are professional services (cited by 34% of school pupils) and the public sector (29%). Engineering (14%), IT (11%) and construction (2.5%) appear at the bottom of the league table.

Winners and losers: the sectors school pupils would like to work in

Professional services 34%
Public sector 29%
Consumer (retail/marketing) 19%
Hospitality & leisure 16%
Law 15.5%
Financial services 15%
Engineering 14%
IT 11%
Construction 2.5%
Don’t know 14%