Royal Mail’s Young Letter Writer of the Year competition gives a unique insight into the career ambitions of 100,000 under-14 year olds across the UK
Being a professional sportsperson (17%) emerges as the most popular dream job for UK children (boys and girls combined) in the largest ever analysis of the career aspirations of under-14s
This is followed by being a vet (11%), a career in the performing arts or the media (10%) and working in the combined category of ‘science, IT, engineering and architecture’ (9%)
However, boys and girls have differing views on what would make their dream job:
- More than one in four boys (27%) dream of being a professional footballer and just under one in five girls (17%) see their dream job as being a vet
- Science, IT, engineering and architecture’ attracts more boys (14%) than girls (5%). However, significantly more girls (9%) want to enter the medical profession than boys (4%)
- Teaching (12%) is third-most popular job for girls, but one of the least-favoured options for boys (3%)
The findings are based on the often heart-warming content of nearly 100,000 handwritten letters expressing the personal dreams of a huge cross-section of the UK’s children
Royal Mail’s Young Letter Writer of the Year competition started in 1977. This year’s competition saw the highest number of entries since 2000, emphasising the continued importance of letter writing
Royal Mail’s Young Letter Writer of the Year competition has given a unique insight into the career aspirations of children growing up in the UK today. It also reveals clear gender differences in their views of what makes a dream job.
Royal Mail analysed the responses of nearly 100,000 children under the age of 14 who entered the competition with a letter in response to the question ‘What is your dream job?’ The UK national winners will be announced towards the end of the month with the country and regional winners announced on 18 January 2016.
For all UK children (boys and girls combined) a career as a professional sportsperson emerged as the UK’s most popular dream job accounting for 17% of letters, followed by being a vet (11%). This in turn was followed by a career in the performing arts or the media (10%) and a career in the combined category of ‘science, IT, engineering and architecture’ (9%).
A closer analysis of the figures reveals that boys and girls have differing views on what makes a dream job. A career as a professional sportsperson (with footballer topping the list) emerged as the most popular dream job for boys, featuring in 27% of letters. A career as a vet emerged as the most popular dream job among girls, accounting for 17% of responses.
While being a professional sportsperson is a top draw for boys, it is a dream shared by only 8% of girls. In contrast, only 5% of boys hope to work in animal care, the most popular choice for girls.
Amid concerns that women are under-represented in science, IT and engineering, the findings found that boys already expressed a much stronger interest in this area. Around 14% of boys outlined a dream job in the combined category of ‘science, IT, engineering and architecture’ compared to just 5% of girls. However, significantly more girls (9%) than boys (4%) appear drawn to the medical profession.
For girls, being a teacher was the third most popular job option accounting for 12% of entries. The profession attracted only 3% of the boys’ vote.
The popularity of talent shows such as the X-Factor impacted boys and girls in different ways, although the lure of stardom featured in the top five dream jobs for both sexes. About 14% of girls said that their dream job would be a career in performing arts compared to just 6% of boys. Elsewhere, a career in fashion and beauty attracted 9% of girls compared to 0.5% of boys.
Royal Mail’s Young Letter Writer of the Year competition is now in its 39th year. With nearly 100,000 entries, this year’s competition was the biggest since 2000, suggesting that letter writing is still seen as important by the UK’s school children.
Stephen Agar, Managing Director Consumer and Network Access, said: “The huge number of entries for Royal Mail’s Young Letter Writer of the Year competition shows that young people continue to recognise the importance of good letter writing. The quality of writing, originality of thought and strength of argument demonstrated in this year’s entries shows that many of our children are extremely competent when it comes to putting pen to paper.”
The handwritten letters are being judged on a range of criteria including style, good use of vocabulary, accurate grammar, well-constructed sentences and correct punctuation all relative to age. The competition was organised in association with the education resource centre, iChild.
Judges, including former Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen, popular TV presenter, Helen Skelton, and Royal Mail chief executive, Moya Greene, are also looking for strong and engaging content imbued with originality relative to age. Other qualities include generating a compulsion to read on, as well as a clear argument that reaches a powerful conclusion.
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