In fact, research released last week shows that teenagers can miscalculate the potential earnings of some skilled and practical sectors by as much as 38 per cent.
The apparent mismatch has been revealed in research by the Edge Foundation, published to mark the opening of nominations for this year’s VQ (Vocational Qualifications) Awards.
For example, in 2014 the sector with the highest annual earnings was electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply. However, only one in six teenagers in the research guessed that this sector was in the top three.
Furthermore, they thought average earnings in this sector were around £23,000 – a long way out from the actual median figure of £37,922. Electricians, for example, earn an average of £29,000 a year, 25 per cent more than the national average salary.
Meanwhile, nearly one in five teenagers believe they would see high earnings in the arts, entertainment and recreation professions when in fact the sector is one of the worst paid – with average earnings of £21,603 in 2014.
The poll surveyed 1,100 teenagers aged 14 to 18 and 928 parents aged 25 and over. The findings also show that parents have some of the same misconceptions.
This is worrying, says Edge, as 44 per cent of the teenagers said their parents were the biggest single influence on their future education and career choices.
Jan Hodges, CEO of the Edge Foundation, said: “A skilled workforce is essential to the UK economy and high-quality vocational routes need to be encouraged – not just for the personal fulfilment they bring but also the lucrative financial opportunities they offer.
“Electricians are just one example of skilled workers whose high earning potential and contribution to the economy go unrecognised. With 70,000 new openings projected in the next 10 years, careers such as these need to be valued equally with those achieved through traditional academic routes.”
The annual VQ Day takes place on June 10 and aims to celebrate vocational achievement and promote the status of vocational education. The VQ Awards are part of the campaign and celebrate students, teachers and employers. For information and to nominate, visit www.vqday.org.uk/vq-awards