Generation YouTube: the young people turning to the internet for careers advice


Rozina Sabur

October 8, 2015

School children are increasingly turning to social media for advice on their future, according to new research

Landing the perfect job has traditionally relied on good advice from teachers or career guidance professionals. But according to the latest study on how young people make decisions about their future, this has all changed.

Dubbed the “self-service” generation, young people are increasingly spurning the conventional wisdom of teachers and careers advisers and turning to YouTube for advice on kick starting their careers.

Harry King is one such teenager. The 19 year old says the influence of social media was the main reason he started looking online for guidance.

He says: “[Online clips] tell people you don’t have to conform and university is not for everyone”. He has just begun an industry-focused course which includes studying for a BA in professional business practice while working in a company.

“Without going online I wouldn’t have known what was best for me and I could have made the wrong decision,” he says.

“Although my secondary school and sixth form had a careers adviser, she also had no information regarding the particular scheme I am on now. The YouTube videos I watched were about people who were reaching out to young people and saying, ‘go for it’ and ‘look what’s out there’.”

The new study by market research firm Bilendi found 15 per cent of British school children now turn to YouTube for careers information.

This is coupled with a 12 per cent drop in the number who turn to teachers when planning for the future, compared to similar research in 2012. By contrast, a quarter now seek advice from their peers, 27 per cent use Google and 12 per cent use other social media networks.

Significantly, just a third of young people said they seek help from a careers adviser. Meanwhile a recent survey by the Government’s commission for employment and skills found that 43 per cent of vacancies in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields are difficult to fill due to a skills shortage.

Entrepreneur Edwina Dunn – the brains behind the Tesco Club Card – believes the traditional resources are missing out many able youngsters . To address the issue, she is spearheading a campaign (‘Your Life’) to directly target young people with careers advice through YouTube.

The social media platform has seen the rise of video bloggers, or vloggers, such as Zoe Sugg who have become internet sensations through their YouTube series.

Now Your Life, a government backed initiative to help teenagers into STEM careers, hopes to share a piece of the pie with its own YouTube channel. It will feature popular vloggers such as the Mandeville Sisters, who have 50,000 subscribers following their videos, to champion their cause.

The videos will have with up-to-date information on career paths, with a particular focus on maths and physics. Ms Dunn, says part of the problem is young people no longer look to “adults with out-of-date information about careers of old”.

“There is still a big difference between some people surfing the web unaided and everyone receiving comprehensive advice and guidance” Nick Hillman, director of the HEPI

She adds: “There are many fantastic things that communicate how to get a career in STEM, but they’re all tailored at an elite group that are focused on doing these courses.”

“So what we’re trying to do is actually speak to the mass and not the few. We’re not speaking to them via schools or teachers – we’re not trying to exclude those people but trying to contact students directly.”

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, says the growth of YouTube as a careers information tool is a good thing. “The more information people have the better,” he says, acknowledging a shortfall in good advice within all schools.

However, he cautions, that when it comes to career opportunities, young people require three components: information, career advice and guidance. “I think it’s great young people are sourcing their own information but certainly it all has to be contextualised,” he says. “My view [with YouTube] is it’s only information. You actually need to provide the guidance and advice as well – you need someone to say that’s not suitable for you with your grades.”

He goes on: “I can imagine it’s a little easier for a kid in a middle class family to do this than someone with no access to the internet. What we really need is every school providing independent advice. It’s expensive, however it’s also expensive when young people make the wrong decision.”


This article was written by Rozina Sabur from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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