I got my start in technology through video games. From there, I began to become increasingly involved with more forms of technology from computers to televisions and now my recent fascination with Android. Despite all of that love for technology, I gave up on my dreams of working in technology due to all the math that’s required. That’s why I became a writer.
I share that personal story to illustrate a recent study that confirms I’m not alone. A recent study from CompTIA found that an overwhelming 97 percent of teens and young adults love technology. Out of that 97 percent, more than half are not just mere consumers. These teens are harbingers of technology that love to show friends and family members the newest gadgets while helping diagnose problems with computers and the like. That sure sounds like IT job material, right?
Unfortunately, teens are just not that interesting in getting a job in tech. Only 18 percent of the respondents said they were interested in IT jobs. So why are kids just not interested in IT jobs? It’s the math and science – the kryptonite of high schoolers everywhere. Over 64 percent of respondents associated technology with requiring good math and science skills. While the survey was not exactly clear over whether teens saw this requirement as a positive or negative; I think we can all guess which one it was.
In more encouraging news, 59 percent of teens perceive IT jobs as a way to help their fellow man. That’s more than 51 percent of teens who only perceive IT as a means to a good big paycheck. In between, there was more good vibes as teens seem to perceive IT as a fun job that lets them play with cool technology.
Beyond how awful math and science are, why aren’t more teens looking for tech jobs? It seems that the sluggish economy has gotten to them. They think that there’s no demand for IT jobs when, in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Take a look at the App Economy – it’s one sector of IT and has already created over 460,000 jobs with many of those jobs belonging to people who work from home on their own terms.
So now we know that teens love technology, but hate science and math. They would love to get IT jobs to help their fellow man, but don’t see it as economically viable. Those are all broad strokes within the huge IT sector though. Are there any specific jobs that teens are clamoring for?
Why yes, teens are interested in all kinds of specific tech jobs. Nearly half of all respondents were like me and want to make video games. Video game job interest has some competition though from the ever growing app economy with 41 percent of teens seeing themselves making an app.
So how does this all break down among the genders? You would think that girls would traditionally not be very interested in technology jobs, right? Well, you’re right and wrong. People just say technology, but we have to apply specific fields once again. Sure, 69 percent of boys want to get into video games. That’s a given. Conversely, more women (40 percent) want to get into Web design. That’s more than the 38 percent of boys who want the same thing.
All of this presents a unique challenge that the IT industry and those of us who write about it have to address. How can we get more teens interested in studying some form of technology? I’m already a lost cause as I chose my path long ago, but many teens are still trying to choose. The biggest thing, in my opinion, is making math and science more approachable. It’s sad to think that I’ve seen hundreds of kids drop out of college altogether because of the way math and science are taught today. If the freshman math class can’t make the subject fun and engaging, what are the chances that the higher level courses will be able to?
Even though I may be a lost cause, I can still do my part as tech writers also have an obligation to the next generation of IT professionals. Many of these kids who love technology depend on us for news and the latest trends in technology. If we can keep them excited and engaged with technology, they have a chance of sticking through whatever is thrown at them.
If the tech industry and the tech writers can both keep their end of the bargain, we’ll hopefully see these numbers on an upward trend this time next year. The current statistics are at least encouraging, but I know that we can all do better.