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Young people in Scotland worry about career prospects

As thousands of teens nervously await their exam results, new research from Scottish Gas has highlighted the depth of anxiety among youngsters in Scotland about their career prospects.


Over two thirds (68%) of 15-22 year olds surveyed in Scotland are concerned about the possibility of not being able to find a job in the future, while more than two-thirds (64%) are anxious about ending up in a “dead end” job.*


Research shows that young women worry most about their future, with 70% admitting they fear that they might not be able to find a job, while 62% worry about being on a low salary.


In Scotland, young women’s salary expectations reflect their worries: those surveyed assumed their earning potential was just under 14% lower than their male counterparts. The research showed that on average, young women expected to earn £28,942 by the time they are 30, while young men expect to earn £33,605.**


Young people are convinced their parents’ generation had it easier. Over half (54%) of those surveyed in Scotland think it is more difficult for them to find a good job than it was for their parents. Just over two fifths (42%) of young people believe it is harder for their generation to find a job with a good salary, while a third (33%) of youngsters think it is more difficult to find a job with good prospects.


When asked about future career paths, the research for Scottish Gas shows that some sectors of the jobs market continue to be overlooked by many young women in Scotland. Over half of those surveyed (51%) admitted they had never considered working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) sectors.


Last year, just 3.3% of applicants for Scottish 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. This includes hosting open days aimed at women at its Training Academy in Hamilton and launching a new mentoring programme.


The research found that women in Scotland are turning their back on these industries for a number of reasons, including a perception that the industry is sexist (9%), or better suited to the opposite sex (9%). In addition, just over two fifths (42%) of young women put their reluctance to work in STEM sectors down to their lack of knowledge of the subject area. A further 6% 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 in Scotland are almost twice as likely (20%) to advise boys to take on an apprenticeship compared to girls (11%). Just under a third of parents (32%) admitted offering their children differing career advice depending on their gender.


John Lochrie, former Scottish Gas apprentice and now Operations Director for HomeCare Services at Scottish 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 apprenticeships, I would encourage girls to think about engineering. Apprenticeships are a great way into an organisation, and at Scottish Gas they allow you to earn while you learn and develop skills for life.”


For young people considering a career in STEM, more information can be found online at

Notes to editors

  • Case studies available upon request: female Scottish Gas apprentice and young exam-taker
  • The company is currently training more than 1,200 apprentices across the UK and receives approximately 50 applications per engineering apprenticeship.
  • The company is regarded as a premier provider of apprentices and its academies have an Ofsted judgement of ‘Outstanding’ in this sector.
  • In 2014, the company invested £21m in training its engineers and apprentices.


*The survey was conducted among 1,500 parents and 2,000 teens aged 15-22. The interviews were conducted online by Redshift Research in February 2015 using an email invitation and an online survey.

**The survey was conducted amongst 2,018 teenagers aged 15-22, during June & July 2015.

For more information contact:

Catrin Millar

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain – nearly half the country’s homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million British businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Homes Services expertise in the country. Find out more at

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