Desired Future Jobs

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Desired Future Jobs

There is limited information around the career aspirations that parents have for their children, although several studies suggest that the children of entrepreneurs are more likely to become entrepreneurs than children who do not have parents working in this area. A 2014 study found that the professions of engineering, medicine, and law are popular choices for parents when considering the future careers of their children. The role that parents have in determining the jobs of their children should not be underestimated, with more parents becoming involved in the careers of their adult children and intervening as they consider necessary.

Aspirations in 2014

  • A Harris Poll study in the US in 2014 found that 93% of parents would encourage their child to pursue a career in engineering. 91% of parents would encourage their child to pursue a career as a scientist or a doctor. 90% of parents would encourage their child to become a nurse, while 88% would encourage them to become an architect.
  • The next five most popular career choices by parents for their children (in declining order of preference) with percentages ranging from 81 to 69% were teacher, accountant, firefighter, business executive, and lawyer.

Entrepreneurial Aspirations

  • Although parents are likely to support a child's aspirations to become an entrepreneur (88%), children are less inclined to want to pursue this career path (30%). Growing up in the shadow of a financial crisis is believed to have contributed to a higher level of risk aversion in current generations when compared to previous generations when they were teenagers.

The Jobs of Parents

  • The most influential factor in determining whether a child is likely to become an entrepreneur is whether one of their parents is an entrepreneur. A child that has a parent that is an entrepreneur is 60% more likely to become an entrepreneur than a child that does not.
  • A Swedish study that included a sample of twins found that adoptive parents and post-birth factors have twice the influence of pre-birth factors and biological parents. However, notwithstanding this, an entrepreneurial biological parent will still increase the likelihood of a child becoming an entrepreneur.
  • "An entrepreneur is an innovative person willing to take a risk, recognizing the possibility of failure and reorganizes available resources passionately and confidently to create value from the endeavor." Given this, it is not surprising that parents have a vital role in the entrepreneurial orientation and intention of their children.
  • Males are more likely to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities if both parents engage in careers of this nature, while females are more likely to pursue this career if only one parent is in self-employment. Males are more inclined generally to pursue opportunities of this nature.
  • This research confirmed the findings of a 2014 Spanish study that found having self-employed parents plays a significant role in the entrepreneurial aspirations of their children.
  • The jobs that parents have influence the career choices of their children. Careers that children are most likely to follow their parents into are legislators, bakers, doctors, and lawyers. The careers that children are least likely to follow their parents into are middle managers, clerical workers, and service workers. This has been consistent over several research studies.
  • This suggests that parents play an influential role in determining the careers of their children. Both advantage and disadvantage contribute to career choices. Children that have unemployed parents are more likely to be unsure of their future career aspirations, while children from more advantaged backgrounds are more likely to be focused.
  • The value of parents' connections and the role they play in the career aspirations of children should not be underestimated.

Early Education and Development is Key to Career Success

  • A Recent US survey of parents found that 56% of the parents of school-aged children have a career in mind for their child. The top job choices of parents are engineers, doctors, web developers, and programmers.
  • The same study found that 75% of parents want their child to end up in a STEAM field. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
  • Parents are aware of the importance of these core areas in their child's future careers and are ensuring that they have a good grounding in these areas. Parents are using STEAM-focused toys (67%), at home experiments (57%), and learning-focused apps (54%) to ensure their children have this foundation.

Socioeconomic Status Plays a Role

  • Research completed by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) has shown that children that come from families with higher socioeconomic status are more likely to choose careers that are technical or require a professional degree. These include careers in medicine, law, and veterinary sciences. These children's career aspirations are influenced by a range of people that include parents and teachers.
  • Those children that have more affluent backgrounds are more likely to gain work experience because of their background and family connections. This enables these children to make better and more informed decisions about their future careers while in their teenage years, while children without these opportunities often have less realistic expectations that do not match the current for the future job market.
  • Research has shown that their parents strongly influence children's career aspirations. There is still a strong gender influence in job choices. Four times as many boys wanted to be engineers and double the number of boys wanted to be scientists when compared to girls. Two and a half times the number of girls want to be doctors, and four times the number of girls want to be vets when compared to boys.

Parents are Too Involved in Millennials Career Choices

  • A 2016 Survey by OfficeTeam found that parents of Millennials are too involved in the careers of their Millennial children. Employers consider their intrusions unhealthy, and they may ultimately cripple their children's careers. Intrusions include parents asking to sit in on interviews, bringing cakes for the employer, becoming involved in salary negotiations, harassing managers who don't promote their child and calling the hiring manager under the pretense of a referee to heap praise on their child.
  • A 2007 study by Michigan State University of employers found 31% of employers had a parent apply for a job on behalf of an adult child, 15% of employers had fielded complaints from parents when their child was not promoted, 9% had parents trying to negotiate their child's salary, and 4% had seen parents attend the job interview with their child.
  • In the 1990s at Stanford University, the occasional parent would attempt to intervene in their child's grades. By 2012 it was estimated the number of parents trying to influence their children's education was between 35-40% of new entrants.

Research Strategy

To determine the career aspirations that parents have for their children, we reviewed a range of industry publications, media articles, and surveys of parents. Surprisingly there was little historical information in this area. We managed to locate the results of a 2014 study, which is indicative of parental aspirations at that time. Some other articles and studies discussed parental aspirations for their children in a general sense. We reviewed these sources further, focusing specifically on entrepreneurship and managed to locate several interesting studies around the careers of parents and how they influence the choices of their children, especially in the area of entrepreneurship. Beyond this, there was very little research that was specifically orientated toward entrepreneurship.

Several other articles provided some insight into parental factors that have varying degrees of influence over the career choices of their children. Although they don't specifically address entrepreneurship, they are useful in providing a general background to how children choose their future careers, so we have included them for completeness.

Finally, we located an article that suggested today's parents are overly involved in the career choices of their children. Again this article does not reference entrepreneurial careers specifically but does provide some general statements around parental involvement in the careers of their children, which can be applied to the entrepreneurial field.

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