How many Grade 9 kids want to be an IT manager?

I actually knew what I hoped to do with my life when I was in gradenine, but I’m not sure I would have used the term “cool” to describeit.

And yet, for some time now, the forces that are trying to get a newgeneration of IT executives into the industry have been worried thattechnology just doesn’t seem cool anymore. This morning I received asummary of a survey conducted by the the Canadian Coalition for Tomorrow’s ICT Skills (CCICT) which casts the problem in a different light: students haven’t really made up their minds one way or the other.

– 39 per cent of the students surveyed see an ICT job or career as appealing or
very appealing, 19 percent as unappealing while the remainder (nearly half)
were neutral or not sure;
– Thirty per cent see an ICT job or career as interesting, 27 per cent as not
interesting, while the remaining 43 per cent were neutral or not sure;
– 77 per cent believe ICT jobs offer average or better than average pay;
– 74 per cent believe ICT jobs offer average or better than average job security;

Those behind the report, titled Connecting Students to Tomorrow’sJobs and Careers, might want to take their own trip down memory laneand remember what it was like when you first started down the long roadto postsecondary education. Not many people I knew had made up theirminds, either. They were focusing more on getting through to the nextperiod, not the next phase in their careers. Grade nine and 10 (whichwas the basis of the survey pool) are about getting adjusted to lifeafter elementary school, when everything suddenly seems bigger, scarierand scholastically more difficult.

It was only later, around the Grade 11 or 12 mark, when everythingseemed oriented towards getting into university (college or simplyentering the workforce directly was completely ignored). In some cases,our teachers’ efforts at setting our expectations and getting acrossthe expectations of universities became completely nauseating. Therewere more than a few of my classmates who still saw university as aplace to “find themselves.” Now, according to the Conference Board,Bell Canada and others in this coalition, they’re expected to discovertheir career choice faster than Google delivers a search result.

The report also repeatedly uses the term “appealing” to describewhether they will opt for a career in IT. Most people I know don’tpursue a line of work because it holds appeal. They do it because theyfeel something inside them that meshes with their innate talents. Theyhave parents who, knowing them better than anyone, recognize thesetalents and point them in the right direction (the report backs thisup, suggesting that parents far outweigh guidance counsellors as aninfluence). This process takes time. If you’re only 13 or 14 years old,you should take all the time you need.

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