By Daniel Hunter

As thousands of teens nervously await their exam results, new research from British Gas has highlighted the depth of anxiety among Britain’s youngsters about their career prospects.

More than two thirds (69%) of the 15-22 year olds surveyed are concerned about the possibility of not being able to find a job in the future, while 63% are anxious about ending up in a “dead end” job.

The research shows that young women worry most about their future, with 73% admitting they fear that they might not be able to find a job, while 61% worry about being on a low salary.

Young women’s salary expectations reflect their worries, with those surveyed assuming their earning potential was 10% lower than their male counterparts. The research showed that on average, young women expected to earn £29,880 by the time they are 30, while young men expect to earn £33,251.

The research also showed that young people are convinced their parents’ generation had it easier, with almost half (49%) believing it is more difficult for them to find a good job than it was for their parents. 41% believe it is harder for their generation to find a job with a good salary, while a third (33%) think it is more difficult to find a job with good prospects.

When asked about future career paths, the research shows that some sectors of the jobs market continue to be overlooked by many young women. Almost half of those surveyed (48%) admitted they had never considered working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sectors.

Last year, just 4% of applicants for British Gas’ technical and engineering apprenticeship schemes were women. The company has since put in place a number of measures to attract more women to its apprenticeship scheme, including hosting open days aimed at women, and launching a new mentoring programme.

The research found that women are turning their back on these industries for a number of reasons, including a perception that the industry is sexist (13%), or better suited to the opposite sex (9%). 30% of young women put their reluctance to work in STEM sectors down to their lack of knowledge of the subject area. 8% also say there are not enough role models in these industries.


The results cast doubt on the quality of career advice youngsters get from their parents. The research revealed parents were almost twice as likely to advise boys to take on an apprenticeship compared to girls. More than a fifth (22%) of parents would encourage their son to take on an apprenticeship, while only 16% of parents would give the same advice to their daughter. 35% of parents said they offered differing career advice to their children, depending on their gender.

Claire Miles, Managing Director for HomeCare at British Gas commented: “There are some fantastic opportunities for both women and men in these sectors, so I’m concerned to hear that so many young women are put off by careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.

“With boys already taking advantage of the apprenticeship opportunities available, I would encourage girls to think about engineering. Apprenticeships are a great way into an organisation, and at British Gas they allow you to earn while you learn and develop skills for life.”