Careers advice can influence industry perceptions

Study and work choices are shaped by a combination of internal drivers and external influences. Often these drivers and influences will be shaped by both accurate perceptions and misconceptions of an industry. These perceptions can be challenged by providing the people who are making and influencing career decisions with accurate and accessible information about what a career in the industry actually involves (such as the day-to-day workings, pay and conditions), as well as the pathways available to someone within that career and how to achieve it.

Unless there are some special circumstances, the negative perceptions are likely to be sector specific, with some regional nuances. Drivers of negative perceptions about any industry will vary. For example, some people have concerns about the environmental impacts of primary industries. Negative perceptions about sectors may also arise from concerns about pay, conditions and opportunities for advancement.

Given the variety of reasons why an individual may have a negative perception of working within a particular industry, it is important to first understand what those negative perceptions are. This allows the sector to know and address these perceptions. Some perceptions may be based on incorrect information, which the sector can then work to overcome, and other perceptions might be because of realities of working in the industry. For the latter, the industry will then need to decide if it wants to work to change the conditions that are making it unattractive (such as offering different hours, increasing pay rates, or providing better working conditions).

Examples of sectors that have explored the public perceptions of working in the industry

Aquaculture

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) commissioned research to gauge public understanding and perceptions of the effects of aquaculture and its benefits, with the end aim of informing the aquaculture industry’s aim of improving community support and understanding of aquaculture activities.

The report can be found here:

Public perceptions of New Zealand’s aquaculture industry, 2014 [PDF, 2MB](external link) – MPI

Primary industry

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance commissioned research to build an understanding of the current context of career choices, focusing on secondary school students. The research had two objectives: to set baseline measures for the awareness, understanding, attractiveness, and consideration of careers in the primary sector; and to understand what it would take to shift each of those factors (awareness, understanding, attractiveness, and consideration) in favour of the primary sector.

A summary of the report can be found here:

Understanding decision making that leads to careers in Primary Industries [PDF, 720 KB](external link) — Food and Fibre Centre of Vocational Excellence

Tourism

Research to gain an understanding on how young people in New Zealand view careers in the tourism and hospitality industry, to help tourism industry employers and educators develop strategies to attract young people, and effectively retain and develop these young people into sustainable career pathways in the sector.

The report can be found here:

Tourism Youth Perceptions Research Report(external link) – industry.aucklandnz.com

Perceptions has also been identified as a focus area within Industry Transformation Plans. For example:

The Advanced Manufacturing Industry Transformation Plan:

  • Initiative: Business, government, unions and other partners to develop and implement a strategy that improves the perception and profile of Aotearoa New Zealand advanced manufacturing for multiple domestic and global audiences. This will include actively partnering with Māori and Pacific peoples to understand their history, current situation and future opportunities in advanced manufacturing.
  • Outcome sought: Improve the understanding and attractiveness of the sector to students (from primary school to tertiary level), educators, parents, potential and current workers, investors, and global audiences.

The Aquaculture New Zealand Workforce Action Plan includes the following actions:

  • Commission a perceptions study of the aquaculture job market targeting both job seekers and employed staff.
  • Build understanding of perceptions and barriers to recruit and retain a young and diverse workforce, including Māori.
  • Inform future actions to build diversity and inclusive working environment.

Careers(external link) – Aquaculture New Zealand

Last updated: 07 December 2023