Children in developing countries have more career aspirations than UK kids, study finds

Ella Wills
Children from 20 countries drew pictures of what they wanted to be when they grew up: Shutterstock

Young people in developing countries have higher professional aspirations than children in Britain, a study has found.

Research showed most children in countries such as Uganda and Zambia wanted to be doctors or teachers, while boys in the UK aimed to be a footballer or YouTube star.

The findings came from a survey of 20,000 children by the Education and Employers Charity.

It asked primary school children from the ages of seven to 11 across 20 countries to draw pictures of the jobs they hoped to have in the future.

Alima, 9, drew herself as an athlete (Education and Employers)

Results showed that gender stereotypes are established from an early age, the charity said.

In the sample nine times the number of girls in the UK wanted to become teachers compared to boys, which researchers attributed to conceptions of traditional feminity such as "nurturing" roles.

While boys "overwhelmingly" aspired to take on roles in "traditionally male dominated sectors and professions", according to the survey.

But girls' top choices were more academic than boys, with jobs such as vet and doctor among the most popular.

Whereas sports player, social media star and police officer were the top three choices for boys.

Outside of the UK, children presented higher aspirations despite harder social backgrounds.

Girls in Uganda and the Philippines most wanted to be teachers, for example.

Across the UK and international findings, researchers found a disconnect between the jobs market and young people's expectations.

Nick Chambers, chief executive of Education and Employers, said it showed primary school children needed to hear about the "vast range of career options open to them and are not ruling things out at an early age", according to the BBC.