Today's Teenagers Most Career-Driven For A Century

14/08/2014 17:02 | Updated 20 May 2015

Why today's teenagers are the most career-driven

If you thought today's teenagers were only interested in celebrities and selfies, think again.

For it's been revealed that teens are more ambitious than at any time for 100 years.

Four in 10 young people say they want to do well in their working life, and 14 per cent say it's the most important thing to them.

The study of several generations of people, dating back to centenarians, compared attitudes towards work down the years.

It was carried out for the National Citizen Service, a scheme for 16 and 17-year-olds to learn leadership skills, carry out community work and spend time away from home.

Historian Heather Ellis, of Liverpool Hope University, who worked on the study, told The Sunday Times: "Today's teenagers know they can't depend on having a job for life.

"Instead of responding negatively and becoming apathetic or angry, many are so anxious to succeed they're starting to work while still at school, as young as 15, by setting up their own businesses, often using their sophisticated digital skills.

"The baby-boomers were the first generation not to have to worry about going hungry, being unable to afford a doctor, or not having enough money to further their education.

"Generation citizen, growing up against the background of the recent recession, are more acutely aware of many of the issues that worried the war generations such as financial security."

The study surveyed seven generations to examine how they viewed work when they left school.

The report revealed that far from being workshy or lacking in ambition, today's teenagers were as keen to succeed in the world of work as any of their forebears.

Among 13-19-year-olds today, 79 per cent named doing well in their work as one of the things that matters to them. One in seven – 14 per cent – said it as the most important thing to them.

A 'silent generation' of 72-89-year-olds, who grew up in the 1930s at the time of the Great Depression, were the only group to come close to showing the same levels of aspiration as today's youngsters.

For those born around the First World War the 'lost generation', now over 95, and the 'greatest generation' including the over-90s – serving the country and supporting family was more important than a career.

Just 58 per cent of the 'greatest generation' said having a successful job is important.

Among post-war teenage babyboomers, now aged 54-71, just 62 per cent thought a successful career was important.

The other groups included the silent generation (aged 72-89), generation X (32-53) and generation Y (19-31).

Today's 13-19-year-olds are described as 'generation citizen'.


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