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Teens, Young Adults Not Interested in IT Careers

CompTIA study reveals that while 97% of teenagers and young adults say they like technology, only 18% consider pursuing an IT career.


Playing video games is fun, but few kids see the IT industry as a future career.

Forget about the notion that if you let your kids play video games they might develop into information technology (IT) technicians for your integration business.

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

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, CompTIA’s Youth Opinions of Careers in IT study finds.

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.

But 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 healthcare or education. In fact, six in ten 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,” says 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 CompTIA 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 first-hand 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 says. “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; nine percent plan to attend a two-year college; and seven percent, a technical or trade school.

The CompTIA study also finds that teens and young adult 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 says. “In the information economy, technical literacy is a prerequisite for many occupations, even beyond technology positions.”

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About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

3 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by 2ndRick  on  06/15  at  01:20 AM

In other news, 200% of kids express interest in becoming rock stars, popular club DJs, and pro sports athletes.

Posted by Chris  on  06/18  at  12:00 AM

Haha very true Rick. Around here (Vegas) in addition to your list…bartender or cocktail waitress. Why go to college when you can do either of those and make 75 to 100k plus nice benefits!

Posted by paulcunningham  on  06/18  at  02:32 PM

Waitressing, bartending, rocking, DJing, sporting - you have a relatively short amount of good earning years until your body slows down and your looks fade along with your income - I don’t know any 40-50-year old waitresses making that kind of cash. Programmers and network admins? Absolutely.

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