How Parents Can Support Young People With Career Decisions

Ensuring your children are set up for a successful career, future financial security and good quality of life is a pressing challenge for every parent. As young adults, your children will look to you for advice and guidance. Parents have a key role to play in the decision-making and the general career path your children choose to pursue. The question is how involved should you be in this decision-making process? Should you adopt a hands-on role? What is the best advice you can give your child whilst they explore career opportunities?

The best thing you can instil is a mature and sensible mindset, providing the tools to allow young people to make their own informed decisions

In terms of career choice, as a parent you should:

  • Aid, but not dictate, the decision-making process
  • Support your child’s decisions
  • Give your children freedom and time to discover their skills
  • Motivate to develop and achieve
  • Encourage to pursue interests and ambitions
  • Try to instil a responsible attitude and mature outlook
  • Instil an attitude of self-belief by being positive and never critical
What should you bear in mind when helping your child with education choices?

The decisions we make in our early life (e.g what school we go to, the subjects we chose to study, the decision to go to university/college, and the courses we choose) can impact our career path. If this decision is heavily swayed by parental preference, the child may end up doing a degree or starting an apprenticeship that, deep down, they aren’t interested in. On the reverse side of that, without practical guidance and support, poor choices can be made.

Everyone has a unique skill set. Each child is individual in their way, and so may possess different skills and abilities from their parents. With this in mind, adopting a similar career role to either parent may not be the right course of action.

We all take time to ‘find our feet’. Parents will often say things such as “pick a course you think you’ll like” or “why don’t you apply for this job”. Though it may seem they’re doing the right thing in terms of steering their children in the right direction, parents also need to understand that we all need space and time to discover what we truly want to pursue.

University isn’t for everyone and engaging in relevant work experience or undertaking an apprenticeship can be just as valuable in finding a suitable career in which you can thrive.

Life is about self-discovery and new skills and talents are developed. We can only make decisions based on what we know about ourselves at the time, take the pressure off young people by letting them know it’s okay that they aren’t sure what they want to do yet but the important thing is to be proactive in finding their way.

Things a parent can do to help with career decisions:

Read up on the relevant courses that are offered. From an adult perspective, you may have some questions that your child has overlooked.

Make sure your son/daughter goes to some Open Days. These are essential for students trying to come to terms with the vast array of colleges and courses.

If possible, introduce your son/daughter to someone currently doing the course/working in the career area.

Look at the list of proposed courses and find out if your son/daughter has researched each course thoroughly.

What is the backup plan if the predicted results do not happen?

If there are career talks for parents at school or college, make sure you are in attendance.

Attend Parent/Teacher meetings.

Remember parental advice is invaluable, but school leavers must make their own particular career choices.

If your child is considering a career in the IT sector, be sure to check out the DFE careers bulletin which highlights careers in Cyber Security, Data Analytics and Software Engineering.