Press release

Interest in the job is often not the key factor

What young people look for in their choice of career

02/2016 | Bonn, 14.01.2016

Interest in the job is often not the key factor

Interesting work is important for virtually all young people when making a career choice. However, for most young people, there is more to it than this. They are aware that occupations have an influence on future earnings potential and career prospects and may also determine the level of approval by society. With two related occupations to choose from, it is often these latter aspects which tip the balance. This is also the case, even if it is harder to find a training place in this occupation and success in the search for a training place is by no means guaranteed. These are the results revealed by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) as part of their research project “Education and training orientation and decision-making of young people in the context of competing training provisions”.

Specific comparisons were made in the demand patterns of young people in the occupations of “man-agement assistant for retail services” and “salesperson specialising in foodstuffs”. The number of appli-cants in the “management assistant for retail services” career significantly exceeds the number of training places available which means that, in this case, many applicants are unsuccessful in their search for a training position (2015: 6,400). By contrast, a shortage of applicants exists in the “salesperson specialising in foodstuffs” occupation. A large number of training positions offered therefore remain unused (2015: 3,600).

In the view of young people, the work in both occupations is closely related - around 700 applicants for training places were interviewed as part of the project. In both cases, the emphasis of the work is on selling and providing advice. However, young people associated significantly better earnings and devel-opment prospects with the “management assistant for retail services” occupation. They also anticipated a more positive response from their social sphere to their decision to opt for this occupation and not for the “salesperson specialising in foodstuffs” occupation.

These views obviously make it hard for young people to consider the “sales person specialising in food-stuffs” occupation, even in cases where they had not been successful in their search for a training position as “management assistant for retail services”. This is also made more difficult by the fact that young people have problems in correctly assessing the training market situation in both occupations. BIBB researchers comment that many applicants for training places are not even aware of the much greater chances of success in the “sales person specialising in foodstuffs” occupation.

BIBB president Friedrich Hubert Esser underlined that “measures which aim to strengthen demand from young people for certain careers must not limit themselves to generating interest in the activities the job entails. “The results of the research project show that it is just as important to take into account the options provided in terms of earnings, further development and social recognition, to reduce the perceived or actual competitive disadvantages compared to other professions and to make young people and their parents aware of these changes.”

Advanced vocational education and training as “sales Manager specialising in foodstuffs” which has just been restructured in collaboration with social partners and experts from company-based practice, is moving in this direction: It introduces continuing education routes and promotion possibilities to young people interested in education and training. Sales managers work predominately in branch management, for example.

According to the BIBB research results, young people should also be made more aware that, even if competition on the job market is less intense due to demographic change, many occupations still exist where the entry opportunities are limited. Young people can only make reasoned decisions and avoid disappointment if they can realistically assess their chances of success.

Further information is available in the new BIBB REPORT 1/2016: “Why not ‘salesperson specialising in foodstuffs’ rather than ‘management assistant for retail services ’”? Vocational orientation of young people taking as an example two occupations which are related yet different in terms of demand”. This issue can be downloaded free of charge from the BIBB website at www.bibb.de/bibbreport (German only).

Further information about advanced vocational education and training as “Sales Manager specialising in foodstuffs” is available at www.bibb.de/de/berufeinfo.php/profile/advanced_training/2411ab4 (German only).

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