Only 40pc of Irish teens plan to work in maths or tech jobs

8 Jun 2010

Despite 60pc of Irish 12-to-14-year-olds revealing they plan to set up their own business, a mere 40pc say they plan to work in maths or technology-related areas.

New research from Junior Achievement Ireland found that despite the recession, 78pc of secondary school students are still confident they will be able to get the job they want when they leave school.

The survey of first and second-year students by Junior Achievement Ireland, a not-for-profit organisation focused on providing enterprise and life skills to students in 500 primary and secondary schools, found that just 8pc think they might have to emigrate to find work when they leave school in 2015.

More than half – 60pc – of the students from 15 secondary schools around the country would like to set up their own businesses “when they’re older” and 67pc wanted to learn more about running a business.

Ninety-three per cent of those surveyed felt that a Leaving Certificate would help them get the job they wanted, while 96pc planned to stay in school to complete their Leaving Certificate.

Vocational Education Committees figures on students

The new research conducted in April compares with Vocational Education Committees (VEC) figures showing that 80pc of secondary school students completed their education over the last decade. Seventy-six per cent of the students researched plan to continue their education after school, with just 8pc considering apprenticeships.

Junior Achievement (JA) programmes aim to motivate students to stay in education to improve their life opportunities. JA also provides free schools programmes in maths, science and business.

“This research is good news for anyone concerned about the future of employment here and the economy generally, as the 20pc of children who have been leaving school without a Leaving Certificate face a far tougher time in the job market,” said Della Clancy, executive director, Junior Achievement.

“It’s great to see students recognise the value and improved opportunities a Leaving Certificate provides them.”

Junior Achievement also promotes the application of science, maths and business skills through school programmes and events delivered by business volunteers. This year alone, more than 63,000 school students have participated in JA programmes with help from 3,000 business volunteers from public and private sector organisations such as EMC, 3M, GSK, Eircom and others.

Maths and science

While 60pc of students thought they were good at maths, another 50pc did not enjoy it and just 40pc were interested in careers involving maths, science or technologies. 

“I used to think science was boring but I definitely think it’s more fun when you get to work things out yourself in experiments. It’s great seeing and finding out how things happen,” said Gloria, St Aidan’s National School, Tallaght, aged 12, on one of Junior Achievement Ireland’s programmes, Challenge Science.

“A greater interest in maths and science subjects should be encouraged,” said Clancy.

“By linking maths with sport and giving young students the chance to experiment with science, we encourage them to view these vital subjects in a far more positive light,” Clancy said.

“Also, by linking school and business we show young people the kind of future they may enjoy and motivate them to reach for a brighter future,” she added.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years