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Parental influence on their offspring's career choices

Any parent who doubts their influence on their child’s career choices need only turn to Google to discover just how wrong they are. Report after report reveals that parents play a major role in their offspring’s decision-making about careers and even more so about their choice of university. But there’s a difference between giving your child a helping hand in finding their own way and elbowing your way in and taking over completely. So how can parents get the balance right and best guide their offspring into the world of work?

Rule number one is to get informed. Parents, according to yet more studies, are largely unaware of the range of options open to young people. Don’t beat yourself up about it – even most of the schools we visit aren’t completely clued up and make no apology for it. In today’s fast-changing and digitalised world, they explain, new roles are being created all the time. ‘We are always very mindful of the fact that we’re training young people for jobs that don’t even exist yet,’ headteachers tell us time and again.

A good starting point is to become au fait with careers you’ve never heard of and, more than that, what skills do today’s employers really want as this is ultimately what will determine job prospects. Read our blogs specifically written as a resource for parents and also check the job profiles section of the National Careers Service website focusing on roles in the areas that most interest your child. You can also visit the charity icould's website. We think they are doing a brilliant job of giving you a real-life look at the possible routes in front of you by making available over 1,000 video stories from people with actual experience, AND it’s free!

Catch yourself if you find you’re inadvertently steering your child in a direction that is more about your ambitions than theirs, it’s easily done, but this is their future, and you need to remain impartial and realistic. Listen to their views without judging or criticising; be open to new ideas; and encourage them to explore and research widely before coming to definite conclusions.

Don’t just focus on your child’s academic strengths. What are their merits outside the classroom? What do they feel passionate about? What subjects make them sit up and get animated? Where do their soft skills lie? Talk to your child about these areas and explore together which careers might be a good fit.

Utilise the careers guidance from their school or college – although be warned that the quality is something of a postcode lottery, meaning that families are increasingly opting for paid-for careers services, such as our bespoke GSGCA, in the same way that some parents decide to pay for a tutor.

Keep an open mind about training. Thousands of students are shunning the UK’s traditional universities to take their degrees at local FE colleges, while others are training on the job via apprenticeships, including degree apprenticeships. Not only may it suit your child better, but it could save them from being saddled with debt. Visit Not Going to Uni for more detail on alternative options.

Encourage your child to be pro-active, taking up volunteering roles and finding work experience placements (not always easy). Suggest they attend careers fairs and taster days and call on friends or friends of friends who are already working in sectors they express an interest in – just talking to them on the phone may be invaluable in helping your child work out the right path for them.

Last but not least, don’t put it off. Too many older teenagers are so used to having education-related decisions made for them that they struggle to take responsibility for their own future.

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