National Careers Week: Rollercoaster of work awaits the young

Having fun at work and making money are at the top of most people’s wish-lists for a job but they’re also the hopes of the next generation of workers. However, young people are also thinking about work-life balance and whether they need a ‘side hustle’ to make ends meet.

This week is National Careers Week and research compiled by financial technology company Go Henry has revealed the changing career priorities of children across the UK. The kids’-eye-view of the future of work has been gathered from nearly 480,000 UK GoHenry customers and a sample of over 2,000 young people aged 6-17.

In Yorkshire, an entrepreneurial and creative spirit is strong in the next generation, with nearly a third (31 per cent) of children expressing a desire to move away from the traditional 9-5 in favour of a flexible working style.

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But for eight-year-old Eva from Huddersfield she said she’s in no rush to leave education just yet.

Nine year old Theo from Doncaster.Nine year old Theo from Doncaster.
Nine year old Theo from Doncaster.

“I think it would be less fun than school and so I’d like to stay at school forever. When I do leave school though I want to be a teacher teaching small children. I’ll need to go to college and be really good at English and Maths, which are my favourite subjects, and stuff like that,” she said.

While at school Eva said her mind occasionally strayed on to what people are doing out in the big wide world, including what is keeping mum Rebecca busy.

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She said: “I think about people doing different things at work – mummy is a dance teacher but I don’t think about everyone being a dance teacher. I think about people going into offices and doing work there on their laptops."

Louise Hill from Go HenryLouise Hill from Go Henry
Louise Hill from Go Henry

While a ‘job for life’ is set to be a thing of the past, with 43 per cent of young people predicting they’ll have between 5-10 different jobs over their lifetime, security of earning is still important to Eva.

She said: “I don’t mind how much I get paid as long as I can get a house and things for the house. I’d probably buy a house first when I get paid.”

Traditional working patterns will disappear too, with almost a third (31 per cent) of children classed as Generation Alpha (born between 2010-2024) and Generation Z (born between 1997-2012) expecting flexible or compressed working hours. A quarter (25 per cent) want a fully remote job, 23 per cent crave unlimited holiday, 22 per cent want a four-day week and a fifth (20 per cent) don’t want set working hours at all.This fits in perfectly with the lifestyle that Elijah, age 11, from Dinnington, Rotherham, would like. “My ideal job would be a Lego Designer,” he said. “I’ve always loved Lego and I already paint my own Lego figures and design them digitally at home.

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"I’d like to have flexible hours so that I can spend some relaxing time at home with my future pets. Having a better community is more important to me than getting paid well as I’ll enjoy the work I’m doing. I don’t know what work benefits I’ll have, but health care would help me stay healthy.”

Eva, aged 8 from Huddersfield.Eva, aged 8 from Huddersfield.
Eva, aged 8 from Huddersfield.

Side hustles also look set to stick around despite HMRC’s new ‘side hustle tax’ which is aimed at ensuring people report all their earned income. Thirty-one per cent of young people want to have a job with a regular salary and a side hustle to work on in their own time. When it comes to earning potential, a third (33 per cent) of kids expect to be making at least £30,000 for their first full-time role, which is roughly in line with the median gross annual earnings for full-time UK employees.

This ambition looks to be on the cards for the next generation of workers, with GoHenry’s data showing that UK kids are making more money than ever before. In 2023, kids earned £168 million, an 8 per cent rise on the previous year, and were paid an average of £9.52 pocket money per week, representing a 25 per cent uplift.

For nine-year-old Theo from Doncaster he says he’s already started getting paid by dad Ben and potentially already is in training for a side hustle.

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He said: “I’m looking forward to finishing school and going to work but I’m not sure what job I’ll do that. I get paid for doing little jobs at home and get paid for doing that into my Go Henry account. It’s fun to get paid for doing stuff.

“When people go to work they go for the money and also because they enjoy it. What they do while they’re at work depends on what kind of job they do but I think it’ll be more exciting than school.

“I go on my computer for fun to play games and create animations. Maybe one day I could make animations for a job in the future.”

He also said he thinks there may be some ups and down during his career: “The coolest job in the world is being a rollercoaster because you get to ride on rollercoasters, I’d like to do that. I think a nurse or a doctor is a really important job but they will take a lot of learning and exams to become one of those.”

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Ben says he has an idea what Theo may eventually do. “During lockdown he watched loads of Homes under the Hammer and said he’d love to be a property developer. He saves all his money now from doing his little jobs, especially when he sees the prices of what something costs.”

This is all music to the ears of Louise Hill, Co-founder and CEO of GoHenry, who said: “At GoHenry, we’re all about empowering kids with the financial skills to thrive in any workplace – whether that’s in a traditional job, a new-age role, or running their own business. It’s inspiring to see younger generations so confident about what they want and don’t want from their future careers. Growing up amid Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, it’s unsurprising that so many young people have developed such strong views and employers must listen or risk losing out on top talent.”

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