"The research forum helped me get up to speed with the latest research and was a valuable networking opportunity."- secondary school deputy headmaster

Drawing the Future: Exploring the career aspirations of New Zealand children

Author: Tertiary Education Commission; Colmar Brunton

Organisation: Tertiary Education Commission

Published: February 2020

Country: New Zealand

Research type: Report

This report presents findings from Drawing the Future, a research project that explores children’s career aspirations and the influences that shape them. 

Available literature and findings from Drawing the Future internationally show that children and young people’s career aspirations form at a young age and can be predictive of study and employment-related choices they make as they grow up. Often, aspirations reflect a relatively small number of careers, with over half of children in different studies aspiring to one of ten or fewer specific occupations. This pattern reflects the exposure of children to a limited range of careers, often through the occupations of people they know, and visibility in different types of media. 

Much of the existing literature is limited to international work and studies of older children and teenagers. Little is specifically known about the career aspirations of young children, and New Zealand children. Drawing the Future was undertaken in New Zealand to address this knowledge gap, and inform future initiatives for broadening children’s aspirations. Children aged 7 to 13 in every primary and intermediate school in New Zealand were invited to draw ‘what they wanted to be when they grow up’ and answer some supplementary questions. Over 7,700 responses were received, resulting in a large sample broadly representative of the New Zealand population in this age range.