More teenagers, especially girls, are open to the possibility of a career in information technology (IT), according to a research report by CompTIA.
Seven in ten teenagers surveyed for the CompTIA report “Youth Opinions of Careers in Information Technology” say they are open to the possibility of a career in the tech arena. That’s up from 62 percent in a 2015 CompTIA survey.
Increasing interest among girls is driving the positive momentum. In the latest survey 62 percent of girls between the ages of 13 and 17 said they would consider a tech career, an increase of 11 percentage points from 2015. Among boys, 80 percent have considered technology as a career option to some degree, up from 72 percent in 2015.
“This is a promising sign that we may be headed in the right direction when it comes to attracting new generations of workers into our industry,” said Charles Eaton, CompTIA’s executive vice president for social innovation, CEO of Creating IT Futures and author of “How to Launch Your Teen's Career in Technology: A Parent's Guide To The T In STEM Education.”
“But the report also identifies areas to address, such as providing young people with more information as they progress through school and focus more intently on career options,” Eaton continued. “Students and their parents are re-thinking education and career options. For some college may be the choice. For others, there are viable alternatives to a four-year degree, especially in the technology field.”
The need to attract a new generation of tech professionals is critical. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that through 2024 more than 1.2 million job openings in IT jobs will need to be filled due to growth and retirements.
What’s Attracting Teens to Tech?
Teens believe that jobs in IT pay well and offer the potential to do creative, interesting work on innovative ideas, according to the CompTIA survey. A majority of teenagers also say a job in tech could provide them with opportunities to make a difference and to help people.
“Of course technology is an integral part of the lives of teens today, with the vast majority going so far as to say they “love” technology,” said Anna Matthai, senior manager, research and marker intelligence, CompTIA. “Teens also realize that the skills they gain from using technology are eminently transferable to future careers.”
When asked about specific areas of IT, designing video games was especially popular among boys, with 65 percent saying they could see themselves working in this area. Other roles that were popular among teenagers included designing apps for smartphones and working in emerging technologies, such as robotics.
But teens also acknowledged some concern about emerging tech. Six in ten have heard about the automation trend; and a slight majority are concerned that it might mean fewer jobs for them in the future.
The majority of students look to schools – teachers and career counselors – to provide information on potential career options. While 72 percent of schools provide students with tech career information, there remains a gap.
Teens also look to family or people they know as reliable sources for career information. But just 33 percent of boys and 24 percent of girls know someone that actually works for a technology company or has a job in technology.