Workforce Readiness

Analysis of 23K Aptitude Assessments in Utah Shows Large Gaps Between Students' Talents, Career Interests

YouScience, a provider of aptitude-based assessments, personalized career guidance, and industry-recognized certifications, today released its new statewide talent report of over 23,000 Utah middle school and high school students that shows a large gap between students’ aptitude and their career interests, according to a news release.

“While Utah students possess the necessary talents needed for Utah's in-demand careers, many students do not show interest in these areas,” YouScience said. “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.”

The results are based on YouScience’s analysis of the anonymized results of YouScience Discovery aptitude-based career guidance assessments completed by more than 23,000 Utah middle and high school students.

In an effort to close the so-called career exposure gap, Utah educators are using YouScience Discovery, which assesses each student's natural talents and strengths and then introduces each student to a broad variety of career opportunities related to his or her identified strengths. YouScience Discovery assessments were made available to Utah schools statewide for the 2021–2022 school year.

“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,” the company said in its announcement. “Natural talents can be detected as early as middle school, providing educators and parents time to ensure students build on their natural strengths through course selection and, ultimately, college and career choices.”

Key Findings Among the Middle School Student Assessments:

Results from 15,730 assessments taken by Utah middle school students revealed a lack of alignment between students' interests and their aptitudes, representing an exposure gap “where students have had insufficient visibility to careers and career opportunities where they might be most successful,” the report said.

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

Key Findings Among 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, YouScience said. “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.”

“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,” said Jeri Marshall, college and career center coordinator at Provo High School in Provo, Utak. “For years, we have been looking for a way to connect the two and we found that with YouScience Discovery. 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.”

For more information on YouScience, visit Find the full report at the Utah Talent Report site.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].