drawing the future 1925

Launch of Drawing the Future research report

Launch of Drawing the Future research report

Last updated 21 February 2020
Last updated 21 February 2020

We held a national survey for Drawing the Future in October 2019, where students in Years 3-to-8 were asked to draw a job they want to do when they grow up. The research format and methodology is based on the original survey conducted in the UK and adapted for the New Zealand context.

Drawing the Future is part of a broader Inspiring the Future programme under the Career System Strategy.

We launched the final research report Drawing the Future at Parliament this week. The report highlights work needed to broaden children’s career expectations to support future employment demands.

The research is based on contributions by 7,700 primary and intermediate students from around the country, who drew pictures showing the jobs they would like to do when they grow up. To put this into context, when this exercise was done in the UK, 13,000 drawings were received out of a population of 70 million, so our results are significant.   

"This is the first time such research has been done in New Zealand," says Tim Fowler, TEC Chief Executive.

"This is a significant piece of research that provides robust evidence into the career aspirations of 7-to-13 year-olds and factors that influence their choices."

The results show very narrow career choices at this age. More than 50 percent of drawings for both boys and girls show just nine jobs: sportsperson – way ahead at almost 17 percent – vet, police officer, teacher, social media influencer, artist, doctor, military or firefighter, and farmer.

Māori children are the most likely to aspire to be sportspeople, but are less likely to be interested in science and technology-related jobs; Pacific children are more than twice as likely as others to want to be police officers.

Around two in 10 New Zealand children aspire to a science, technology, engineering or maths-related career, but girls are one-and-a-half times more likely to than boys.

The report confirms international findings which show that unconscious bias caused by a child’s race, gender and socio-economic status can have an early effect on career choice.

"Such bias can affect the choices made later in life, such as subjects studied at secondary school and training or education pursued after graduation.

"Over half of New Zealand children aspire to a professional career, but only a quarter of people in the workforce are expected to be employed in those roles in 2028.

"We need to engage our children in a wider range of occupations if New Zealand is to thrive, and future generations are to enjoy satisfying, lifelong careers.

"This is a call for us all – industry, community and government – to start thinking about our children’s career aspirations and how to break biases that block them from seeing the full picture," says Tim Fowler.

"TEC is working on a number of initiatives to help broaden the horizons of our tamariki so they can pursue jobs that are in demand now and in the future.

The results of the Drawing the Future research will help design the Inspiring the Future programme to help overcome biases and raise awareness of skills in demand.

Read the Drawing the Future report (PDF 14 MB)