Dreams of fame and fortune lead Greek youngsters

Everything that glitters is truly gold in the eyes of many of Greece’s young people, whose goals appear to be self-promotion and easy profit. Modeling, television, the arts and nightlife, where stars – major and minor – are born, are what many Greek youngsters aspire to these days, in contrast to their European peers who seem to be less superficial in their choice of careers and whose priorities are university studies and new technologies. At least, that is what has emerged from a recent survey on the career aspirations of young people in Greece and five other European countries (Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands). In Greece, the survey was carried out by the Greek Consumer Organization (EKATO) as part of the European program SHARE among a sample of 1,230 people aged 15-25 in Thessaloniki, Florina, Athens, Kilkis, Grevena and Patras. Nearly half (48 percent) of all girls interviewed in Greece said their ambition was to gain fame as models, television presenters, singers or actresses. Over half of the boys questioned said they wanted jobs as barmen or bouncers in nightclubs. Nearly three quarters of those questioned rejected manual labor as tiring and socially beneath them, while over a third wanted a job where they didn’t have to think too much. Only 7 percent cited an interest in scientific research. Around 65 percent formed their opinion of jobs from the way in which these were promoted, 30 percent were influenced by financial prospects and 40 percent by family. Most showed a clear preference for clerical work rather than manufacturing. Girls and boys both admitted that they were not treated equally at home or at school and by extension in the workplace. Girls believe they are preferred for jobs involving dealing with the public and that they would be expected to carry out more duties than those quoted in the original job description. Asked whether they would be interested in a job in politics, most expressed indifference, or thought such a job was an «impossibility.» On the other hand, they also quoted factors such as security and job hazards as influencing their choice of careers. Other countries In the five other European countries included in the survey, young people’s career aims were to a great extent the result of each country’s culture. In Spain, 38 percent of those surveyed wanted careers in industry, manufacturing or farming. Higher studies were the goal of 22 percent, with 8 percent aiming for careers in sport. Fashion, singing and dancing were the goals of about 11 percent of Spanish girls, although most were heading for careers in the teaching of these performing arts. In Italy, the country’s rich cultural heritage appears to have had a considerable effect on its youth, of whom 42 percent said they wanted to go on to higher studies in the arts, chiefly painting, sculpture and art history. Only 14 percent of Italian girls share their Greek counterparts’ desire to break into the media as actresses or singers. And over 20 percent of boys want regular hours in an office and a clean environment. Agriculture (farming and livestock breeding) is the first choice for 36 percent of Irish youth, with another 18 percent going in for teaching, followed by careers in tourism and economics (17 percent). The media attract only 2 percent of Ireland’s young people. In the Netherlands, nearly half of the young people surveyed cited new technologies in farming, the service industries and new telecommunications products as their first career choice. Music as a hobby was of interest to 40 percent but only 4 percent chose it as a career. Nearly a fifth of French youths saw university as the key to getting a job in big business. The country’s tradition in high fashion is still a strong attraction, with 16 percent wanting to become designers, fashion manufacturers or photographers. There was more interest in show business in France than in the other four countries, with 20 percent saying they would like a stage career. No goals Young people in Greece appear to take a very superficial approach to their future in the work force, and their preferred career choices are giving rise to considerable concern in educational circles. «In other countries young people appear to have a healthy and productive approach to their futures, leading to the conclusion that society and education are on the right track,» said Eleftherios Geitonas, of the private Geitonas school in Vari and the Kostea-Geitonas school in Pallini. «In Greece there does not appear to be the same tendency, but a confusion of goals both within society itself and the education system,» he said. Geitonas expressed concern over the fact that young Greeks appear to believe they can survive without hard work and effort. «The current preference for administrative jobs is dictated by our political system, which is based on client relationships rather than productive and growth-oriented structures. I am very much afraid that in in Greece there are no prospects for our young people. That is due to a lack of strategies and productive priorities,» he said. «I think that they often fill in these questionnaires in a spirit of fun,» said Evangelia Sialaki, head of the Vocational Guidance Centers’ (KESYP) Secondary Education Department for Thessaloniki. «One can judge from the way they fill in their choice of tertiary education options. Teenagers listen to their parents and they are also influenced by their performance at school,» she said, adding that children between the ages of 14 and 18 are equally influenced by romantic and pragmatic perceptions of their job prospects. According to Geitonas, the school system should teach language as a thinking tool, new cultural codes (computer science), sport and cultivate mental faculties.

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