Written by Vivi Friedgut

Founder & CEO

The evolving career aspirations of young people

Findings released by BT reveal a seismic shift in young people’s career ambitions over the past two decades. 

The surge in popularity of tech and social media professions, particularly among boys, highlights the growing influence of the digital age. 

Though this provides an exciting shift in many ways – and may even reflect a cautious optimism of the future – it is also clear that a gender gap remains. This gap is not only seen in ambition but also expectation of suitability and success.

In the United States, scholarships and bursaries are a common tool to address this and to positively impact social mobility initiatives. The UK has historically had far less success in developing a huge pool of corporate scholarship opportunities.

At Blackbullion we are changing that.

We want to ensure that there are enough targeted scholarships to address the changing landscape of career aspirations – for ALL students – so that together, we can foster a new generation of skilled professionals.

The changing landscape of career aspirations

In 2000, young females aspired to be teachers, doctors, lawyers, psychologists, and nurses. Fast forward to 2024, and their aspirations have shifted away from more “traditional” and “predictable” careers to include the hyper-desire to become influencers and social media managers. 

A shift is also happening for men who, in the year 2000, aimed for careers as business managers, ICT professionals, engineers, doctors, and sportspeople. Today, they are more inclined towards video game design, software engineering, and IT management. This shift reflects the profound impact of the internet and the growing influence of STEM education.

The role of scholarships in addressing gender imbalances

The data points to a gender imbalance in STEM, with more boys feeling suited to and pursuing careers in these fields. Scholarships can play a crucial role in addressing this imbalance by encouraging more girls to enter STEM careers. Key points include:

  • Targeted scholarships: Providing scholarships specifically for girls in STEM can help bridge the gender gap. (See the STACK Scholarship)
  • Mentorship programmes: Scholarships that include mentorship from female role models in STEM can inspire and support young girls. (See the Chaucer Scholarship)
  • Awareness campaigns: Scholarships that raise awareness about STEM opportunities for girls can challenge stereotypes and encourage participation. 

A limited investigation of some of the scholarship opportunities on Blackbullion’s Funding Hub show a slight disparity in the way that different genders behave when applying for scholarships. In the current cycle, a scholarship with STEM in the name has a gender split of 43% female vs. 53% male (4% other) whereas another similar scholarship does not mention STEM and resulted in a 50% female / 48% male split.

Supporting emerging fields

The rise of social media as a desirable career path for both boys and girls highlights the need for scholarships that support new and emerging fields. Scholarships can:

  • Fund training and education: Provide financial aid for courses and degrees in digital content creation, social media management, and related fields.
  • Foster innovation: Encourage innovation and creativity by supporting young people pursuing careers in these dynamic industries.
  • Ensure inclusivity: Ensure that scholarships are accessible to all, regardless of gender, to cultivate a diverse talent pool.

It is important to note here that many of the skills needed to excel in these sorts of careers aren’t linked to just STEM courses. Increasing the number and value of scholarship opportunities in arts degrees like design, video production, and creative writing will also add to the likelihood of success for the next generation.

The importance of diverse scholarship programmes

Diverse scholarship programs are essential in developing the new wave of talent needed in today’s world. By offering targeted scholarships, mentorship, and support for emerging fields, we can ensure that all young people, regardless of their background, gender, race or ambition, have the opportunity to excel in their chosen careers. 

This idea is what spawned Blackbullion’s National Scholarships Week 2024 theme “Apply. Achieve. Advance.” During the week, over £800,000 in new scholarships were launched on the Blackbullion platform, funded by our range of corporate partners. These scholarships supported everything from design to veterinary medicine to software engineering.

As a leading provider of scholarships and bursaries, we are committed to empowering the next generation. By recognising and adapting to the changing career aspirations of young people, we can help them achieve their dreams and contribute to a dynamic and evolving job market.

Let’s invest in the future by supporting the ambitions of all young people, fostering innovation, and promoting equality in every field.

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