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Jun 13, 2012

Love of Technology Doesn’t Translate into Career Interest for Many Teens, Young Adults, New CompTIA Study Finds

Low interest may be due to lack of knowledge about full range of tech careers options

Downers Grove, Ill., June 13, 2012 – The love affair teenagers and young adults have with technology doesn’t necessarily translate into interest in a career in information technology (IT), according to a new study released today by CompTIA, the non-profit association for the IT industry,

While 97 percent of teens and young adults report loving or liking technology, just 18 percent report a definitive interest in a career in IT, CompTIA’s Youth Opinions of Careers in IT study finds.

Though a relatively small pool of students is interested in IT careers, the CompTIA research reveals a much larger pool of “maybes” – 38 percent of girls and 48 percent of boys. Lack of familiarity with the IT field is cited as a primary factor contributing to low interest in the career path.

But interest levels jump when teens and young adults are presented with options for specific jobs. Nearly half of the respondents can see themselves potentially designing video games; 41 percent envision creating applications for mobile devices; 39 percent, designing web pages; and 34 percent, applying technology in fields such as healthcare or education. In fact, six in ten respondents perceive an IT career as an opportunity to help people.

“It’s sometimes easy to overlook the vital creative, collaborative and problem solving elements of technology work, as well as the diversity of occupations within the field,” said Carolyn April, director, industry analysis, CompTIA.

This lack of understanding of the variety of career options in the IT field is reflected in other findings in the CompTIA study. For example, 21 percent of respondents perceive the job as working alone in front of a computer all day. Additionally, only 26 percent believe IT occupations are in demand despite evidence to the contrary from job boards and other surveys.

When asked if they have first-hand knowledge of what’s it’s like to work in IT – based on a family member or friend working in the industry – 61 percent say they do not. 

More Choices, More Decisions
The information economy has generated a host of new occupational categories.

“Mobile app developers, digital content curators, ethical hackers and big data analysts are just a few examples of the career options available today that weren’t present just a few years ago,” April said. “Teens and young adults face a bewildering set of options.”

Today’s teens and young adults recognize the importance of post-secondary education and training. Four out of five students in the CompTIA study hope to pursue a four-year college education; nine percent plan to attend a two-year college; and seven percent, a technical or trade school.

The CompTIA study also finds that teens and young adult may be preparing for technology careers without realizing it. Nearly six in 10 serve as technology facilitators and troubleshooters for their family and friends. An additional one-third provide occasional “tech support” for problems with computers, software, mobile devices or related technologies.

“This hands-on experience will serve them well, even if they don’t opt for a career in a technology field,” April said. “In the information economy, technical literacy is a prerequisite for many occupations, even beyond technology positions.”

Data for CompTIA’s Youth Opinions of Careers in Information Technology study is based on an online survey of 1,002 U.S. teens and young adults, about equally divided between boys and girls and age ranges (13-17 and 18-24). The survey was conducted between March 27 and April 2, 2012. The complete report is available at no cost to CompTIA members who can access the file at CompTIA.org or by contacting research@comptia.org.

About CompTIA
CompTIA is the voice of the world’s information technology (IT) industry. Its members are the companies at the forefront of innovation; and the professionals responsible for maximizing the benefits organizations receive from their investments in technology. For more information, visit www.comptia.org or follow CompTIA at www.facebook.com/CompTIA and twitter.com/comptia.

Contact:
Steven Ostrowski
Director, Corporate Communications
CompTIA
630-678-8468
sostrowski@comptia.org