SOCIETY: WHAT RUSSIAN YOUNG PEOPLE WANT
4. OCCUPATIONAL ASPIRATIONS
SOURCE. I. Kharchenko, "Obrazovanie v sisteme tsennostei i zhiznennykh planakh starsheklassnikov: metodologiia i pervye rezul'taty sotsiologicheskogo issledovaniia v Novosibirske" [Education in the System of Values and Life Plans of Senior School Students: Methodology and First Results of a Sociological Survey in Novosibirsk], pp. 24-56 in Sotsial'nye izmeneniia v Rossii i molodezh. Vypusk 9 [Social Change in Russia and Youth. Issue 9] (Moscow: Moskovskii Obshchestvennyi Nauchnyi Fond, 1997)
In January-March 1990, researchers from the Department of Social Problems of the Institute of the Economics and Organization of Industrial Production of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences conducted a survey of the life plans of 1,684 students in the 9th and 11th grades (1) of schools in the city and province of Novosibirsk. A similar survey was carried out in April 1996 on a reduced sample of 352 students in 9 schools.
Comparison of the results of the two surveys showed "no deep qualitative change." Even more students wanted to continue their education in 1996 than in 1990: two-thirds of 9th graders wanted to enter the 10th grade (up from one half), while 86 percent of 11th graders wanted to go on to higher education (up from 78 percent). However, only about a half of 11th graders thought they and their families could afford to pay for their higher education. At the same time, the less expensive option of going to a technical college (2) remained unpopular, with only 10 percent expressing such an intention in each year.
Which branch of working life did 11th grade students hope to enter? (3) The most striking shift is the increase in the proportion of those unable to answer to almost one half (48 percent in 1996 compared to 21 percent in 1990). The occupational sphere that is most popular in 1990 (chosen by 24 percent) -- arts, culture, education, and science -- falls to 12 percent in 1996; healthcare, social security, and sport declines from 14 to 5 percent. Industry declines from 6.5 to a mere 2.5 percent, while agriculture and municipal services drop right off the map: nobody wants those jobs! The military holds steady at 0.5 percent. The sole winner, apart from "don't know," is the sphere of "management, finance, accounting, police, and courts," chosen by one quarter of 11th graders in 1996 (though already at 22 percent in 1990).
Students are also asked: What is the main thing in choosing an occupation? They are shown a list of 13 possible replies, of which they can select more than one. In 1990 the top three replies, each selected by about 45 percent, are to have creative work, to be in constant touch with people, and to be of use to people. By 1996 these have declined to 32, 39, and 28 percent respectively. High earnings shoot up from 23 percent in 1990 to 47 percent in 1996, and promotion prospects from 8 to 21 percent; high prestige goes up too, from 25 to 32 percent. Thus there is a significant though still incomplete shift away from experiential and ideal factors toward material ones.
Respondents are also asked what things they regard as "very important in life." Here is what they choose (data for 1996):
over 80 percent: good friends and a good life companion
over 70 percent: good health, the best chances for their future children
over 60 percent: good education, success at work
about 60 percent: material welfare, freedom of choice, good relations with people
40-50 percent: the respect of those around me, a feeling that people need me, stable living conditions
about 40 percent: to have children, interesting leisure activities, to live in conditions of legality
about 30 percent: to live near relatives
(1) 9th grade students can leave or continue to the 10th grade. The 11th grade is the last.
(2) That is, a tekhnikum, SSUZ or PTU.
(3) From this point I omit discussion of the responses of the 9th graders. The overall patterns are quite similar.