New statewide talent report reveals students have the aptitudes employers need; highlights early knowledge helps close exposure gap and address workforce shortages
AMERICAN FORK, UT, Jan. 26, 2022 – YouScience, the only fully-integrated platform provider of highly accurate aptitude-based assessments, personalized career guidance, and industry-recognized certifications, today announced the results of its new statewide talent report of Utah middle school and high school students, “2022 Utah Talent Report.” These initial findings reveal that while Utah students possess the necessary talents needed for Utah’s in-demand careers, many students do not show interest in these areas. The results point to a potential “career exposure gap,” meaning that students who are naturally talented in areas such as computers and technology and manufacturing show little interest in these fields, often because of lack of exposure to existing opportunities and awareness of their own abilities.
YouScience analyzed the anonymized results of more than 23,000 Utah middle and high school students through its YouScience Discovery aptitude-based career guidance assessment, which was made available to Utah schools statewide for the 2021–2022 school year. The findings showed that across all grade levels there was a mismatch between the careers students were interested in and the careers for which they had aptitudes.
Utah educators and educational stakeholders are leading the charge in working to close this gap by using YouScience Discovery, which assesses each student’s natural talents (aptitudes) and strengths and then introduces the students to a wide variety of related career opportunities. YouScience Discovery provides students with insights into how their natural talents translate to careers where they are naturally wired to perform well and find satisfaction, and can often be more successful. Natural talents can be detected as early as middle school (aptitudes solidify by age 14), providing educators and parents time to ensure students build on their natural strengths through course selection and, ultimately, college and career choices.
“As a former school counselor and someone who has dedicated a career as a coach and counselor to help guide Utah’s youth, I am keenly aware of the need to put the best tools available into the hands of parents, students, and counselors. YouScience is the most comprehensive tool I’ve seen, providing scientific feedback regarding an individual’s aptitudes and strengths,” said Senator Derrin Owens.
Key Takeaways for Utah Middle School Students
Results from 15,730 middle schoolers demonstrated that there is a lack of alignment between students’ interests and their aptitudes. This represents an important, and potentially limiting, exposure gap where students have had insufficient visibility to careers and career opportunities where they might be most successful.
Specifically, data from Utah’s middle schoolers showed these gaps:
- Computers and technology: Students had 2-3X the aptitude for these careers than interest
- Advanced manufacturing: Female students had 11X the aptitude for careers in this field than interest
- Finance: Male students had 4X the aptitude for careers in finance than interest
- Arts and media: Unlike the other areas, students had almost 3X more interest than aptitude
“Due to potential exposure gaps, early access to the right tools can open students’ eyes to career opportunities that they’ve never considered or possibly even heard of,” said Edson Barton, founder and CEO of YouScience. “We applaud the state of Utah for taking the necessary steps in helping young students determine their natural talents so that they can be exposed to various careers they may not have otherwise known about, and get on the right educational pathway as early as possible. Once a young person has an opportunity to explore what they’re good at and understand how their individual talents fit into careers, it can be a life-changer. Students can explore opportunities with more latitude and educators can work with students to adjust their approach to pathway career planning.”
Key Takeaways for Utah High School Students
YouScience analyzed the top 50 most frequent career matches for Utah high school students based on interest-only and aptitude-only recommendations from YouScience Discovery results. The findings from 7,847 high school students indicate:
- 74 percent of the top 50 career interest-based recommendations directed students to more traditional social and artistic careers
- None of the top 50 interest-based recommendations directed students toward high-demand careers like engineering, healthcare and technology
- In contrast, 50 percent of aptitude-based recommendations from YouScience Discovery directed students toward high-demand careers like engineering, healthcare and technology
- Many students, especially young females, don’t imagine themselves in high tech or other in-demand careers, because of self-bias or cultural bias. The disparity between aptitude and interest for young girls persists beyond middle school. High School aptitude results indicate female high school students have more than 4X the aptitude than interest for careers in architecture and engineering
YouScience Discovery helps Utah’s future talent, and the educators teaching them, clearly see how their natural talents align to high-demand careers, which is critical in today’s labor market where skilled workers are hard to find. The visibility and exposure are also helping close gender gaps and increase diversity within the talent pool for high-demand, rapidly growing fields. Report results show the disparity between aptitude and interest – and between genders – persists beyond middle school.
“There has been a huge disconnect between the courses students were taking in high school and what they wanted to do or what they actually did when they left high school. For years, we have been looking for a way to connect the two and we found that with YouScience Discovery,” said Jeri Marshall, College and Career Center Coordinator at Provo High School located in Provo, Utah. “By incorporating aptitudes, we can steer students toward in-demand careers that students have an innate talent for and that they are interested in. It’s a win-win.”
YouScience is the only provider of a fully-integrated platform that delivers highly accurate aptitude-based assessments, personalized career guidance, and industry-recognized certifications, empowering individuals in their educational and career pathways. Leveraging proven research and industry input, YouScience helps individuals identify their natural talents, validate their skills and knowledge, and get matched with real-world educational and career pathways in high-demand occupations. YouScience is the preferred choice of individuals, parents, educators, and counselors to guide and support educational and career pathways, currently serving more than 7,000 educational institutions and nearly one million users.
Connect students to their best-fit pathways, careers, and post-secondary opportunities.
To learn more about YouScience and how this unique platform is changing students’ lives, connect with one of our regional directors.