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A Survey of the Job Inclinations of Youth in the Rural Areas

Jihad, Social, Scientific & Economic (Monthly)
May 1995,
Nos. 172 & 173, Pages: 32-37
By: Navid Saeedi Rezvani

Summary: A survey focusing on the job inclinations of Iranian peasant youth was conducted in 28 villages that were selected from six provinces in the country. By interviewing 417 young peasants, it was indicated that their work interest was primarily in the service sector, then followed by the industrial and agricultural sectors. Such tendencies however, do not count as proper parameters in the launching of development plans. The capacity of the service sector is limited and is dependent upon the production sectors such as industry and agriculture. The survey has nevertheless shown that less than 20 percent of the youth in the rural areas were interested in engaging in agricultural endeavors.

The job tendency, as exhibited in the survey, was also dependent on financial considerations and in the interest of the young in gaining social and economic prestige. Hence, the financial and social status of the peasants should undergo improvement and promotion.

Text: A survey was conducted in 1993 in 28 villages from six provinces in Iran, namely, Mazandaran, Kermanshah, West Azarbaijan, Khuzestan, Sistan-Baluchestan and Isfahan. It included 417 people from the rural areas with ages ranging from 15 to 24 years. Those polled were categorized in three groups as follows: peasants who were busy with farming activities (109 respondents or 26.13 percent), unemployed young people in search of jobs (145 persons or 34.07 percent) and students (163 or 39.8 percent). The three categories were provided with specific questionnaires though common questions were also included.

The Objective and Relevance of the Survey

People act according to their own point of view and they react in response to others' decisions. Planners and policy makers will not be able to attain the goals they set when implementing programs if they are not well informed about public opinion. Clearly, there should be harmony between programs and public opinion and this should be the main parameter when enacting programs.

Job inclinations can be considered a reflection of public opinion and awareness of such tendencies can aid in establishing priorities in decision-making and in budget allocation.

A considerable amount of investment is being made in the rural areas but this is not totally productive due to the lack of interest on the part of the young.

Therefore, a research concerning the job tendencies of the youth in the villages has a basic and useful application. The survey was intended to promote the necessity of statistics and information gathering (the basic aspect); on the other hand, the ultimate goal of the survey is to draw programs that will lead to the employment of young peasants in accordance to their job tendencies (applied usage). Extent of Job Tendencies

In order to present a practical definition of job tendency, the relationship is indicated between choice and preference, and job expectancy, as these terms are often taken to be the same.

a. Relationship between choice and preference A person, initially, prefers a job, then, he or she chooses it. The preference can be considered as interest in one job, but the choice is more generalized and comprehensive than the preference. Hence, choosing a job requires preference but the preference does not necessarily lead to the choice. Therefore, a person chooses a job in the light of various possibilities and problems and a final decision constitutes the choice whereas what a person likes to do represents his/her preference.

b. Relationship between choice and job expectancy

Job expectancy includes the professions that one wishes to fulfill in the future, but this can be mainly illusive and far from reality. The job expectancy considers all the circumstances under which all possibilities have been put at the disposal of one person and he or she is expected to make a choice about a job. That choice is regarded as job expectancy; in other words, job expectancy is based on wishes and desires.

One chooses a job wherein he presumes he can be a success, in addition to taking some other considerations into account. But when he gives preference to a job, he thinks of what he likes best, so that he considers his ideals based on his illusory perceptions.

Job Inclinations of Young Peasant Farmers

1. Choice of job by the peasants polled

Before reviewing the job tendencies of the young peasants, the types of work that they had chosen are first presented, as follows: 28.44 percent of the young peasants polled were farmers, 11 percent were skilled workers, 10.1 percent worked in factories, 9.2 percent were involved in giving personal services, 7.3 percent were teachers, 4.6 percent clerks, 3.7 percent craftsmen including carpet weavers, 3.7 percent were servants, warders and gatekeepers, 2.8 percent hunters, and 1.8 percent were government employees. A total of 38.5 percent were in agriculture, farming and hunting, 33.7 percent in the industrial sector including those employed in the factories, skilled workers as smiths and carpenters and peasant craftsmen, and 27.5 percent were in the service sector such as shoemakers, hairdressers and public bathkeepers. From the above figures, it can be gleaned that majority of the young villagers were engaged in non-agricultural endeavors.

An interesting point is noted in the fact that only 31.2 percent of those polled had continued their father's occupation (75 percent of those interviewed said their fathers were farmers or gardeners but only more than 31 percent had chosen their fathers' job). Reasons cited for not following the father's footsteps in the job arena included the lack of possibilities to go ahead with the job (32.5 percent), meager income derived (31.44 percent), lack of interest in the father's work (25.4 percent) and the absence of the required skills to engage in the same occupation as the parent (10.7 percent).

The survey showed therefore that unlike before, young peasants of today had not been very keen to continue their fathers' profession.

In the past, boys acquired training from the fathers and they learned the necessary skills from the parent. The usual scenario was that boys would start out with the family, then later proceed to work independently. At present though, in light of the relative change in the economic structure of the rural areas as well as the shortage of water and of arable land, the head of the family has been led to a weaker economic position. Moreover, the trend, which proceeded from changing methods and skills and related to the generation gap, and the communication exchange that has been expanding between the urban and rural areas were other factors contributing to the current scenario.

2. Job preferences of those polled

Fifty-two (27.7 percent) of those interviewed said their jobs were ideal and they did not want to choose another work while 55 (50.5 percent) reported that they did not regard their jobs as being ideal; two of the respondents (1.8 percent) refrained from answering the question.

Asked what work they considered as ideal, 13.46 percent cited work in the agricultural sector and 11.5 percent mentioned office employment. Engaging in a business was good for 5.8 percent, educational activities for 3.84 percent, engineering for 3.4 percent, hygienic practice for 3.84 percent, personal services for 3.84 percent, medicine for 1.9 percent, repair services for 1.9 percent and hunting for 1.9 percent.

The interest shown in agriculture and industry indicated that the income from the two sectors were high and the people who are affected by economic constraints were aware that gainful employment is possible in these two sectors.

The outcome of the survey showed that over 50 percent of those polled regarded other occupations, and not the one they were presently engaged in, as being ideal. This finding conveyed the idea that there were limited job possibilities in the villages; hence, only a few options were open to the young peasants. The status quo in the villages vis-a-vis occupation opportunities was not deemed as satisfactory, and this situation could definitely create a negative impact on the efficiency and productivity of the villagers.

3. Job expectations

In an attempt to recognize the job expectations of those interviewed, they were asked to state their job expectancy for their sons. People usually state their wishes for their children without considering the exact circumstances.

Only 16 people (14.7 percent) of those questioned, said they wanted their sons to proceed with the fathers' job and 81 people (74.3 percent) said they wanted their sons to have other occupations. Twelve people (11 percent) did not give an answer to this question. 21 percent of those who preferred their sons to choose other jobs, reported that they wanted their children to work in the medical sector, 17.3 percent liked their sons to be teachers, 7.4 percent desired to see their offspring as engineers, 3.7 percent as craftsmen, 3.7 percent as office workers, and 1.23 percent each for work in the repair service sector and in building construction.

The occupations that were considered ideal were those that were thought to accord more income and generated respect in the community. In other words, the work either had financial or special importance. For instance, teaching does not give a high income but the profession is regarded as being prestigious. Hence, this field has attracted a lot of the attention of those polled. In the survey, only one person (1.23 percent) mentioned a preference for the son to proceed with farming. Therefore, farming, which has been the central economic activity in village, seemed to lack the social prestige that was given weight by those who were interviewed.

Relationship Between the Job of the Parent and the Ideal Work for the Son

There existed a meaningful relationship between the job of those interviewed and the ideal work that they recommended to their sons. The level of this meaningfulness was seven percent and the correlation quotient between the two was 48 percent.

The correlation goes like this: 30 percent of the peasant farmers and gardeners were interested in having their work continued by the sons, but those who were employed in other areas did not want their children to have the same jobs as they had. Not even one teacher or factory worker demonstrated an inclination for their offspring to follow in their footsteps. This showed that these people were not very optimistic about the prospects of their jobs from the economic point of view, and they believed that their sons would not be able to acquire the desired economic status if the children proceeded in doing their parents' jobs.

Preferences of Those Who are Seeking Employment

Working in the industrial and service sectors stood high in the favor of those who were looking for jobs, with 23 people (15.8 percent of those polled) exhibiting interest in these two fields. Farming ranked as second favorite, with 22 respondents (15.2 percent) saying they wanted to work in this sector. Twenty-one (14.5 percent) signified a preference for office employment and 13 people (9 percent) opted to engage in repair services. Ten people (6.9 percent) had a liking for the teaching profession while three persons (2 percent) wanted to be in construction; two (1.4 percent) liked to be physicians, another two (1.4 percent) to be laborers and one (0.7 percent) showed interest in being an engineer. One other person wanted to be a policeman, another one a carpenter, and a third one liked to own a store. Nineteen people (13.1 percent) did not give specific responses.

The survey showed that those seeking jobs preferred to be in industrial and service enterprises. Of course, they regarded occupation in the farming sector as important too. Seventy-two persons (49.7 percent of those polled) said the opportunities for their occupation existed in the villages, at the same time that 46.9 percent said the contrary - that there was no possibility in the villages for gainful employment. Five people (3.4 percent) did not answer the question.

It has become evident, therefore, that the lack of job opportunities in the villages would be followed by negative repercussions. On the other hand, if the circumstances in the villages forced a person to be employed in a job which was not his favorite one, his efficiency and productivity would be reduced. And if he did not want to be employed in the village, he had no choice except to migrate to the cities to seek a job. Therefore, creating job opportunities in the villages in itself would not be enough. A variety of job opportunities should be available in the rural areas that could meet the needs of the people who are looking for jobs.

Job Expectations of the Students Polled in the Survey

Young people, including students, were interviewed to indicate their job inclinations and job expectancy. Though they were not in the proper position to be choosing jobs, their prospective jobs however were seen as having a very important impact on their future life, as people perform on the basis of their willingness to do so. Sixty people (37.7 percent of the students) said they liked to be teachers, 27 (17 percent) showed interest in being physicians, while 17 (10.7 percent) wanted to be engineers and to work in the field of agriculture. Hence, farming and engineering ranked third in terms of interest. Being in the industrial sector was favored by 9 students (5.7 percent), 6 (3.8 percent) expressed their desire to be lawyers, and four (2.5 percent) liked to be policemen. Three students (1.2 percent) stated their interest in business, one (0.6 percent) wanted to be a hairdresser and another (0.6 percent) had his eyes on becoming a laborer.

The survey showed that teaching was the most favored job in the village due to a teacher's social prestige. Second preference was to be a physician due to the financial and social importance of the job.

Seventy-two students (44.2 percent) opined that there were job opportunities in the villages and 91 (55.8 percent) believed that possibilities for job creation existed in the rural areas. Asked whether young peasants could find a job at the village after getting a diploma, 31 (19 percent) responded positively but 105 (64.44 percent) gave negative answers and 26 (16 percent) said this was unpredictable. These answers indicated that a considerable portion of the young population in the rural areas saw no bright prospect for themselves in the villages. Nevertheless, 112 of the students polled (69.1 percent) said they would stay at the village if they were able to land into the occupation which they wanted, while 50 (30.7 percent) mentioned their willingness to be employed in the city.

Asked about where an educated young villager would rather live, 52 (31.9 percent) answered they would rather live in the city and 47 (28.8 percent) said they preferred to live in the village. For 64 students (39.3 percent), the place of abode made no difference in their job preference and did not give a particular view in this respect. Observations

It could be predicted that if a breakthrough was not achieved and the students' job expectancies were not met, a considerable number of these young people would move to the cities.

The students perceived a difficulty in finding work in the villages, either subjectively or objectively, and similar to other young peasants, they saw a shortage of opportunities in the rural areas. Also, there is the fact that as the level of education goes up, higher expectations are also brought about. Hence, the young educated villagers expressed no preference to choose the occupations that were prevalent in the villages such as farming or working in the construction sector as a simple worker.