In the 23rd issue of the journal Social Change in Switzerland, Irene Kriesi and Ariane Basler (Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training) examine the changing career aspirations of young people in Switzerland. They show that young men have higher career aspirations than young women.
Moreover, by the age of 15, young people are already adjusting their career aspirations to what they consider to be realistic possibilities in relation to their educational background. Various factors seem to influence vocational aspirations: social status of the occupation, type of post-compulsory education, level of parental education.
Irene Kriesi and Ariane Basler use data from the COCON survey on children and youth, which repeatedly asks more than 1,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 21 about their career aspirations. At the end of compulsory schooling, young women most often want to become commercial employees, doctors or early childhood educators. Young men aged 15 most often want to become computer scientists, professional sportsmen or car mechanics.
The status of the desired professions is closely linked to the type of post-compulsory education. Young gymnasium students aspire to professions with a higher social status than young apprentices. For example, 15-year-old female secondary school students usually want to become a doctor, veterinary surgeon, lawyer or primary school teacher. On the other hand, 15-year-old girls who start an apprenticeship with medium or low requirements aspire to professions with a lower status: health care assistant, retail employee, early childhood educator or florist.
Occupational aspirations also differ according to gender. From the age of 18, young men aspire to professions with a significantly higher social status than young women. This may contribute to the fact that young women – despite their better educational achievements – are quickly falling behind in the labour market. Finally, the training of parents plays a decisive role. Among young people with comparable educational attainment, those whose parents have tertiary education have higher career aspirations than young people with parents with lower educational attainments.