Who are the most influential individuals helping young people make career decisions?

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For most youth, building up a career is a lifelong process of engaging in the world of work, while skimming through different employment opportunities made available to them. As such, many factors can help influence a young person’s decision making when it comes to undertaking such milestones; including their social backgrounds, their personalities and their academic achievements. However, certain individuals could have more of an impact on the youth than those previously mentioned factors.

According to the YouthSpeak Survey data, 44%  of youth look up to their friends for guidance and advice when it comes to career decisions. Friends are the most influential individuals because they have a peer pressure factor in coercing the youth’s mindsets to go forward with a certain decision. Because friends are personally closer to the youth than their parents or others, they are more likely to choose what their peers recommend to them. Moreover, the fact that some youth might be willing to work at the same jobs as their peers just for the sake of safeguarding a long friendship is a cause for concern. They might not be doing the right decision in following the steps of their classmates.

It is also a major-turning point for parents when after high school their teenagers start thinking about their future jobs. It comes as no surprise then that the parents would try to talk their ‘kids’ into doing something that they want them to do, in an effort not to mess up like they did when they were younger. Some relatives might be encouraging youngsters to find alternatives to university if they are not interested to continue in an academically centered life. Those parents who are more on the domineering side might coerce their youth into going to university because they are the ones who are willing to pay for the courses anyway. This attitude might discourage youngsters because they might not like being forced into doing something they do not want to do. That is why, according to the survey data, the second position falls onto parents, with 27% of influence, and the first is reserved to friends.

When it comes to university, only 11% of youngsters turn to professors and tutors at their high school or college to refine their career choices, and only 4% go to university advisors. It is likely that students are afraid of what these tutors might advise them. More precisely, youngsters feel they are going to be discouraged by educators from following their dreams, due to past failures in examinations, rude behavior in class, or missed lectures and continuous absences. They might also not be getting the support needed to feel confident enough to ask educators about career guidance, as they probably deem it to be a useless and futile action already. Universities and colleges should thus change their ways of imparting knowledge to students, and focus on career building as well. Only lectures are not going to influence youngsters much.

This blog post is hence a call to action to every individual who is close to the youth. It is hugely alarming that the majority of young people prefer going to their friends rather than professionals or even parental guidance to help them in career decisions. If this continues in our society, we might lose our youth to mindless passivity and low consciousness on the level of job achievement. The question that should be asked though is, how can educators and companies work together to help change this trend?


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