Students and Graduates Anxious about Next Steps.

  • New research reveals that three in five (60%) of this year’s final year university students and recent graduates take into account how they think other people will react to their career decision
  • Almost three quarters (73%) feel they ought to future-proof their career prospects by searching in an established or growing sector where their subject knowledge and skills are in demand
  • Nearly half (48%) believe that teaching as a career, among other rewards, would give them the knowledge that their job is helping to positively shape the lives of others and their own 

New market research released today reveals that, as the class of 2022 get ready to complete higher education this summer, four out of five (83%) final year university students and recent graduates surveyed feel anxious about making the right decision when it comes to what their future career should be.

Almost three quarters (72%) of those surveyed agree that, given the number of graduate career options that exist, at times they have felt overwhelmed and unable to make a definitive decision when it comes to their future career path.

When asked what factors influence their thinking the most, over two fifths (45%) say choosing a career that will allow them a sense of pride in what they do, whilst a similar amount (44%) want a stable salary / financial security. This is reflected by the fact that almost three quarters (73%) of respondents feel they ought to future-proof their career prospects by searching in an established or growing sector where their subject knowledge and skills are in demand.

The survey of over 2,000 final year students and recent graduates in England was carried out for Get into Teaching – the national campaign aimed at encouraging people to consider teaching as a career. It explores how today’s higher education cohort feel when it comes to making decisions about their future career and what factors are influencing their decisions.

When considering their career options and aspirations, the view from others is influencing many in this group as three in five (60%) take into account how they think other people will react to their choices when they tell them.

This is a common factor according to career coach Alice Stapleton, who specialises in working with people in their 20s and 30s. She said: “Many of the graduates and early career changers I coach consider heavily what others will think of their career choices. They want their parents to be proud, they want their friends to think it sounds cool, and they want their career to carry with it a degree of societal recognition and status. In early adulthood, we often seek a real sense of belonging, so it makes sense that young adults will be concerned about the reactions of others when choosing a career – we want to be accepted, recognised, and validated as we venture into our early careers.

“Young people are becoming more and more anxious about what others think of them. Fuelled by social media, our life choices are heavily scrutinised and publicly judged way more than they used to be. It therefore makes sense to me to hear that so many of those surveyed take into account the reactions of others when considering their future career paths.”

According to the survey, the majority (80%) of students and graduates agree that they’ll know they’ve found the right career path when it combines their passion for a topic and the opportunity to make an impact. 

When asked to consider what they think they would gain from teaching as a career, nearly half (48%) said knowing the job is helping to positively shape the lives of others and their own, among other rewards. A further 61% say that, to find out more about teaching as a career, they would consider discussing it with a teacher/s from their area or network.

Career coach Alice Stapleton continued, “It’s also clear from these findings that this cohort want to be proud of what they do for a living, and that they want their career to have a positive impact. It’s because of these factors that many of the clients I talk to are considering teaching as a possible profession to pursue. It provides the opportunity to combine passion with pride, as well as purpose – a powerful, and much-desired, combination in a career.”

Ryan Walters, 25, a primary teacher at St. Matthews CofE Academy and Nursery in Plymouth, who has been teaching for five years, said: “Deciding to train as a teacher when I was 18 years old was the best career move I ever made, even when there were lots of options open. It’s a role that allows you to go home each day knowing you’ve made a difference whilst teaching a subject that you’re passionate about. For me, the best part about teaching is knowing that every single day you have the ability to make an incredible impact on the future of the children you teach. My family and friends are very proud of my profession and the difference that I make.

“Every lesson can help shape a life, and the impact of a good teacher can go far. I have seen this in action personally when I was nominated for and won the Silver Award for Teacher of the Year in a Primary School at the National Teaching Awards last year. Staff, children and their families collaborated secretly to throw a surprise celebration to show their appreciation for all of the things I have done to have a positive effect on children’s lives. It was completely unexpected and showed the impact that teaching can have beyond the classroom!”

Roger Pope, spokesperson for the Get Into Teaching campaign and a National Leader of Education, said: “Our research highlights just how apprehensive most of today’s university students and graduates feel about making the wrong decision when it comes to their future career path. It’s understandable given the job options currently available to young people, but what’s clear is how many want a role that makes them proud and one that uses their knowledge and skills to make an impact in the world.

“As a teacher you get to work in exciting and dynamic schools where there are lots of career progression opportunities – and the personal satisfaction of knowing you are shaping the lives of the next generation is hard to beat.

“I would encourage anyone who has an inkling that a career in the classroom could appeal, to take the first step and visit the Get Into Teaching website to find out more.”

The Get Into Teaching service has experienced teacher training advisers available to give free support and advice for anyone interested in teaching as a career.

To find out more visit: or call the Get Into Teaching line on 0800 389 2500.