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How Can Parents and Carers Support their Children with Career Decisions?
December 18, 2019
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By Zoe Hendricks (RCDP MCDI, MA CEd & C) is a masters qualified career coach and an associate careers and employability practitioner at Ideas4Careers.

group of parents

As a parent, you are likely to be the first port of call for your child when they want to talk about careers. Naturally, you will want to give them the very best advice and support possible. However, it can be tricky to understand current options and choices. So, what can you do to help?

Will school do this for you?

Schools and colleges do their very best to help your child make good career choices. However, available resources may limit the extent of personal careers advice and guidance your child receives. Check if your child is given one-to-one, personal career guidance from a qualified career guidance professional. If so, discuss this with them and offer your support. For example, by taking your son or daughter to explore open days at colleges or universities or helping them to complete applications for courses or apprenticeships. Whether they receive effective careers support at school or not, you can still help them to take responsibility for making good career decisions.

Choosing a career

Some young people know exactly what career they are aiming for, but many do not. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t know what they want to do, this is normal! Even if they have some ideas, these may change as they get older. You can help them to start thinking about the type of work that might suit them through discussing their strengths and interests.

To help them do this, explore free tools and websites such as the iCould Buzz Quiz or Start Profile which offer quizzes and questionnaires that suggest career areas of interest based on their preferences. This can be a useful exercise to spark ideas and career discussions, but by no means should they feel they need to follow the suggestions. The National Careers Service ‘Explore Careers’ is also a trustworthy website for learning more about different jobs and what qualifications and skills are needed to get into them.

Work experiences 

Having personal experiences of different work environments can be a great way of discovering what kind of work may suit – or perhaps more importantly, rule out what doesn’t! As well as supporting your child with work experience placements organised through school, encourage your child to participate in opportunities or initiatives such as Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or the National Citizenship Service. Volunteering is also good experience and will help them to develop employability skills. Additionally, these types of activities can help your child to make effective applications for work, college or university, by incorporating them on their CV, on application forms or discussed during interviews. Find out more about volunteering in your area at Do-it.

What to study?

Broadly speaking, your child will have the opportunity to study towards academic qualifications such as A levels, or vocational qualifications such as a BTEC. Vocational study can keep the door open for university equally to A-Levels and can be undertaken through full-time education in sixth form, college or an apprenticeship. New qualifications – T-Levels which are being rolled out from September 2020 – are a mix of both and gradually becoming more available across the UK. Most importantly, your child should feel happy in what they do and have the best chance of success in their chosen route. For more information about choices after 16, visit Career Pilot.

What if it doesn’t work out?

Although you may want your child to make the right decision straight away, if it doesn’t work out – don’t stress. Learning resilience and overcoming difficulty are essential skills for your child to develop. This may mean working through their issues and staying with their chosen path, or maybe they need to explore something new and make an unplanned change. If you notice your son or daughter is not thriving or is unhappy, the sooner you address worry and concern, the better. There will always be other options available. Speak to your school or college or contact a careers adviser at the National Careers Service for advice.

A career is a journey full of twists and turns

Finally, it’s important to recognise that career choice is likely to change as your child develops. As careers advisers, we want the next generation to encounter meaningful, fulfilling and rewarding careers. We also know this is unlikely to be a straight-forward path! Every bump and obstacle your child encounters on their journey are opportunities for development. In turn, these experiences will help them to build the skills they need to positively manage future career decisions, as they move into adulthood.

For more information and resources visit Links4Careers

About the author

Zoe Hendricks

Zoe Hendricks (RCDP MCDI, MA CEd & C) is a masters qualified career coach and an associate careers and employability practitioner at Ideas4Careers. Zoe combines over 25 years of experience in training, coaching, recruitment and commerce with her drive to help individuals create fulfilling and rewarding careers. Her careers advice and guidance work in schools enable young people to make well-informed career and educational decisions at critical points in their life.

National Careers Service | Discover Your Skills and Careers
April 15, 2019
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This is a new BETA service provided by the National Careers Service.

Take this assessment to find out what types of jobs might suit you, for example, “retail and sales”.

Answer a few more questions to find out what specific job roles might suit you, for example, “florist”.

This could take 5 to 10 minutes. It will take longer if you’re using assistive technologies, for example, a screen reader or screen magnifier.

You can save your assessment if you want to complete it later, or look at your results again another time.

Start The Assessment Here

AOC Response to Ofsted’s Comments
November 26, 2018
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The boss of the Association of Colleges has told his members Ofsted is “quite right” after the inspectorate found some colleges risk giving students “false hope” by putting them on courses where there are slim job prospects.

Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector, drew gasps from delegates at the AoC conference this week when she questioned whether some colleges are chasing income over students’ best interests

She was referring to the inspectorate’s new report on level-two qualifications which found some subjects, namely arts and media, “stand out” as areas where there is a “mismatch between the numbers of students taking courses and their future employment in the industry”.

“Some students get a bit deflated and lose that momentum they built when they discover it is an impossible dream for most of them,” she said.

There was push back from the audience during a question-and-answer session, in which Grimsby Institute principal Debra Gray pointed out that the arts and creative industries contribute “£92 billion to the UK economy, two million people work directly in creative industries and three million work in allied professions where people are creative in non-creative businesses”.

“That doesn’t sound like an impossible dream to me, and it isn’t one that we sell to our students,” she told the chief inspector, before receiving a round of applause from the audience.

AoC chief executive David Hughes stepped in on the debate and said that colleges need to “face up to the fact”. Read more

Careers Advice Beyond #Resultsday2018 by Dr Deirdre Hughes

Many young people will be opening their exam results with some breathing a sense of relief or others taking a sharp intake of breath knowing their results fall short of expectations.

At this time of the year, schools, colleges and universitiesDr Deirdre Hughes OBE Chair, National Careers Council, England 2012 – 2014 and former Commissioner UKCES 2011 -2015work extremely hard to ensure good support systems are in place for those most in need. But what happens when the next academic year begins in September and young people’s course choice or career decisions remain unclear? Worried parents or carers need to know where their children can turn to for careers support during a period of uncertainty. At best the current state of play for young school leavers in England can be characterised (in post-August 2018) as a ‘do-it
yourself’ approach.

England has its own unique careers experiment for young people[1]. Firstly, schools and colleges have a statutory responsibility[2] for ensuring independent and impartial career guidance – without any direct funds received from government. During exams results time, many will rise to this challenge by supporting anxious students through careers information, advice and guidance offered by teachers and careers advisers. Secondly, SERCO delivers an all-age National Careers Service telephone helpline 0800 100 900 on behalf of the Education & Skills Funding Agency. This means young people (and adults) can access careers information and advice as they choose, when they choose. In addition, they can also combine the channels they prefer, for example, combining this and social media (SMS, Facebook, Twitter etc). They can do it from places and spaces convenient to them at a time that suits them best.

Sounds great – but adults over the age of 19 will be able to access face-to-face careers support at a local level, delivered by an Ofsted rated careers service provider. The National Careers Service website is currently being redeveloped, in line with the government’s Careers Strategy (December 2017) and this current bland site site is unlikely to inspire and motivate many teenagers into action (albeit this contains some excellent hidden gems in the form of careers information and self-assessment tools). The Careers and Enterprise Company with government funding of circa £60m (2015 – 2018) focuses on supporting strategy and evidence rather than directly delivering careers guidance to young people, particularly those most in need. Read more