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International: How Parents and Careers can be Supported to Provide Career Development

By JENNY BIMROSE AND SALLY-ANNE BARNES

Labour markets across the world were already experiencing profound shifts and changes before the onset of COVID-19 – a process which has since accelerated. With young people especially vulnerable to unemployment in the changing world order, it is critical that they receive the best possible career support. Parents and carers of these young people also need support from career professionals, so that they can maximize their ability to help.

An international study, undertaken from 2019 to 2020 in the UK, found that parental engagement in career education and support is moving away from passive forms of involvement and information giving, to creating spaces for active engagement, collaboration and communication among parents, carers and educational institutions. What does this research tell us about how we can adapt our practice to best integrate parents and carers into career development support? This article summarizes some key findings and discusses implications for practice.

Learning from others

Increasingly, the careers community is being expected to justify its practice by basing it on robust evidence of what works. This study revealed that, unfortunately, formal, large-scale, longitudinal evaluations of the integration of parents and carers in career practice have not yet been conducted. However, the study has brought together a range of experiential evidence from which we can learn about various practices.

Where and how are parents/carers integrated into career development activities to support young people? In Canada, the Explore your Horizons intervention provided high school students with enhanced career planning and information about the costs and benefits of post-secondary programs. The program was delivered through voluntary, after-school workshops beginning in Grade 10 for students and their parents. It was designed to enhance career education in the school by helping students improve their knowledge of the role of post-secondary education and provide guidance to their parents on how to support them through this process. A combination of interventions (workshops, financial aid, career guidance, resilience training) was found to be most effective. Significantly, there was an increase in high school graduation rates and post-secondary education enrolment among underrepresented students, including those from low-income families.

“Parents and carers of these young people also need support from career professionals, so that they can maximize their ability to help.”

In the UK, the Brilliant Club also aims to increase the number of young people from under-represented backgrounds to progress to higher education. It is a structured program of funded activities for young people that have been designed to develop the career aspirations of academically able young learners. Some schools have adapted these activities to include parents and families. As a result of engagement in the program, young people were reported to have greater engagement in the school’s curriculum and their parents/carers had gained a shared sense of achievement. Practitioners working on the program recognized that it was useful to have LMI knowledge about future opportunities in order to challenge ideas and dated information that some parents/carers had about particular educational pathways.

Further examples of interventions and activities from Australia, Czechia, France, Hong Kong, Netherlands, the US and the UK are presented in the report.

teen boy talking to mom
Personalized communication to parents/carers is important in boosting their engagement in career programs. (iStock)

Key messages

The research evidence helps us to crystallize what we know, and what we need to know, about successful parent/carer engagement in career programs. Specifically, strategic leadership and management support emerge as key factors. Parental involvement in the design of career engagement activities is also important, as well as targeted, personalized communication to parents/carers. Training for staff in schools and colleges in how best to communicate with and engage parents/careers was considered valuable and needed.

Additionally, mixed programs (both online and face-to-face) that involve a range of activities and events are more likely to succeed in engaging parents/carers. Programs, where parents/carers and young people have a shared careers-related experience, are a good way of enabling a conversation about educational and career pathways. Finally, ongoing monitoring and development for sustaining improvement are essential. National policies and strategies that identify how the education system could engage parent/carers were found in Denmark, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands. Such policies typically facilitate career support, rather than making it mandatory.

Promising practice

The study highlights challenges to parent/carer engagement in career support. For example, the timing of events often conflicts with parents’ working hours. There are also issues around the general lack of time, space and resources available in educational institutions. Despite difficulties, details of initiatives in various countries and promising practices can be found in the research and practice reports linked to this study. The strongest messages from the study are:

  • Using technology, since this offers ways of communicating, disseminating and enabling access to information for parents/carers.
  • Redesigning existing activities, such as careers fairs and careers open days, to involve parents, wherever possible.
  • Creating parent-friendly environments with activities to draw parents/carers into schools and colleges, such as breakfast clubs and coffee mornings.
  • Designing new activities in the community and in collaboration with other schools and colleges that engage parents/carers, employers and the local community to build parental knowledge and skills.
  • Creating a space and opportunity for shared conversations between parents/carers and young people through careers workshops and personal guidance sessions, which can be a good way of parent/carers’ learning about careers and starting a dialogue with their young people about their educational and career pathways.

Undoubtedly, parent/carer engagement in careers is important, with a need for them to be “career aspirants” (i.e. supporters of education and career pathways and providers of accurate information). It is also important to remember that they are likely to have different expectations and needs at different points in their young people’s career development, so there is a challenge in how to communicate information ensuring it is of interest and relevant.

Conclusion

The study has evidenced that parents/carers have the single-most powerful impact on a young person’s career development, values, attitudes and self-concepts. Career professionals need to understand how to maximize their influence as a positive force. Even before the onset of COVID, some governments were interested in finding out what policies and resources ensure that career practice maximizes opportunities to integrate parents/carers into career development programs. Pilot programs are needed to build a stronger evidence base on which to take careers practice forward.

Reference

Barnes, S-A, Bimrose, J., Brown, A., Gough, J. & Wright, S. (2020). The role of parents in providing careers guidance and how they can be better supported: International evidence report. Coventry: Warwick Institute for Employment Research.

JENNY BIMROSE AND SALLY-ANNE BARNES With over 40 years’ experience in higher education, researching, managing and teaching at postgraduate level, Professor Jenny Bimrose has extensive international experience of research management and consultancy. Her ongoing research relates to the effective use of labour market information in career guidance practice, supporting the use of ICT by professionals in careers and employment practice, and the role of careers guidance in the career biographies of people making transitions into and through the labour market. | Dr Sally-Anne Barnes is Reader at the Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick managing and working on a range of projects in the careers field. Her international research projects have investigated the transformation of careers and the labour market, plus how individuals engage with lifelong guidance and learning across the life course, navigate the labour market and the narratives around these transitions and decisions.

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.

3 in 5 Parents in England Have Still Not Heard of #TLevels
September 9, 2019
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A new survey commissioned by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) shows that 3 in 5 parents in England have still not heard of T Levels.

With only one year to go until the first T Levels are rolled out in England, a survey of parents of 11-18 year olds commissioned by CMI shows that around 3 in 5 parents (57%) have still not heard of T Levels and only 1 in 10 (11%) feel they know a lot about them.

This lack of awareness is greater among those from lower socioeconomic groups, where 84% of parents had never heard of T Levels.

Once explained, many parents are optimistic about the potential of T Levels. 71% think T Levels will help prepare young people with the skills needed for the workforce, 58% think they will be better than existing vocational programmes and 53% think they will have the same status and value as A Levels.

When challenged over the survey’s findings, the DfE said they would be launching a fresh “nationwide campaign” to raise awareness next month.

Public relations firm Havas Worldwide London Ltd won a contract to design the T-levels logo for £250,000 and has since been given access to £3 million for the implementation of the campaign in 2019/20.

The DfE has not said what this campaign will involve.

A YouTube video, which explains what T-levels are, was published by the DfE last year but has only had just over 11,000 views to date, while a similar video launched last month only has 970.

Rob Wall, Head of Policy at CMI said:

“Raising awareness of T Levels with parents is proving to be a real challenge. As parents are a major influencer in young people’s education and career choices, educating and informing parents will be key to making T Levels a success.

“At CMI, we know that high quality technical and vocational education increases employability and boosts social mobility and the Government’s recent announcement to invest additional funding in T Levels is to be welcomed. But students cannot enjoy these benefits if they are not aware of or not encouraged to consider non-academic pathways. 

“The fact that over 4 in 5 parents from lower income households have still not heard of T Levels should be a huge wake up call for Ministers and policy makers alike.”   

While some individual colleges have launched, or are gearing up to launch their own T-level awareness raising campaigns, some say they themselves do not have enough information about the new qualifications.

What’s Changing at Ofsted in Autumn 2019?
September 4, 2019
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There are a number of changes to some of the Ofsted services and GOV.UK pages. Here’s a round-up of these changes.

The new framework

The main change is that we have a new framework, which inspectors will be using in their work of inspecting early years settings, schools, FE and skills providers and independent schools. This will start at the beginning of September 2019. The education inspection framework will replace the common inspection framework – so please update any bookmarks or links you may be using.

There are also new guides for providers and school leaders on what to expect from an inspection, and how best to prepare.

Ofsted Parent View

From September 2019, we are updating what we ask in the Ofsted Parent View survey so that it links more closely to our new education inspection framework.

The survey continues to ask parents how strongly they agree or disagree with statements about their child’s school, though the focus of what we ask parents has changed.

We have removed and adapted some of the statements. We have also added new questions including a question for parents of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND). This reflects the new framework and responds to requests from parents for a question in this area.

Learner View and Employer View

Currently, both Learner View and Employer View are open all year round. From 2 September 2019, these surveys will be held on a new platform.

Currently, colleges and further education and apprenticeship training providers send a link to learners, employers, parents/carers of learners and provider staff during an Ofsted inspection so they can give their views on these surveys. This will not change. However, these surveys will now all only be open during an inspection.

We have reviewed and adapted the questions asked to make them more useful for learners and employers and better suited to the new inspection framework.

Finding our information

We will be keeping the content on GOV.UK about the previous framework and inspections until October 2019. After that, they will be available on the National Archive.

We will also be adding links on all relevant pages to the new guidance and handbooks. After October, we will redirect links and bookmarks to the new information.

We are also making sure that all our content has improved accessibility and simplified navigation to make it easier to find what you need.

Apprenticeships: July Parents’ Pack
July 17, 2019
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The new July Parents Pack is here and includes tips on how to help your child maximise their summer, parent FAQs, how to prepare for results day, apprentice article on mental health support, apprenticeships with Travis Perkins and so much more! 

Apprenticeships: Parents Pack
October 18, 2018
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This Parents’ Pack is full of resources aimed at helping parents understand the benefits of apprenticeships, including translated resources, dates for your diary and 6 ways to keep informed! We encourage schools to disseminate this helpful pack through their parent comms channels.

Parent-Pack-October-2018

Careers Advice for Parents

Careers advice for parents is a website developed by Carolyn Parry, the CDI’s Careers Adviser/Coach of the Year in 2017 and Project Associate (Wales).

There is a wealth of useful free material addressed to parents (use the Topics and Blog menus) as well as the course for teenagers, which requires a paid subscription.

Visit the website HERE

 

 

Sutton Trust: PARENT POWER 2018
September 14, 2018
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In 2013 the Sutton Trust published Parent Power?a landmark piece of work authored by Prof Becky Francis and Prof Merryn Hutchings demonstrating how social class influences parents’ ability to support their children in their schooling. Five years later Parent Power 2018 revisits the cultural and financial resources parents use to boost their children’s chances of educational success.

Based on a survey conducted by YouGov, the Sutton Trust’s Rebecca Montacute and Carl Cullinane find similar trends to those found in 2013. From choosing the best school to attend, to paying for out of school extracurricular activities, better-off parents continue to have the upper hand when it comes to navigating the education system and preventing their children from falling behind in school.

The report also reveals new challenges. The ‘hidden costs’ of education such as uniforms and travel expenses are an increasing concern for parents from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, while schools are demonstrating increasing reliance on extra financial contributions from parents following recent school budget cuts.

KEY FINDINGS
  • When choosing what school to send their child to, parents with higher socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to attend open days, read Ofsted reports, speak to parents at the school, read league tables and consult local authority or other education websites.
  • Parents in lower socioeconomic groups were more likely to indicate that the cost of travel, and potential extra financial costs such as uniforms, played a significant role in their decision making. Over half of working class parents (56%), compared to 34% of professional parents.
  • Just one in five parents (20%) reported that they were familiar with Progress 8, the Department for Education’s new headline measure for school league tables.
  • Parents in higher socioeconomic groups were much more likely to report a variety of strategies to gain access to their preferred school, such as moving to an area with good schools or to a specific catchment, along with employing private tutors for entrance tests. Read more
Apprenticeships in the West Midlands – A Parents Guide
August 9, 2018
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The National Careers Service West Midlands have produced a video guide about apprenticeships for parents.

 

UCAS: Advice for Parents and Guardians

UCAS’ aim is to help students make informed choices that are right for them, by guiding them through the entire higher education application process and beyond.

To support this, UCAS provides a wide range of valuable information and services for applicants, their parents, and teachers. Applicants can use www.ucas.com to find out how to get started, research their options, make their application, and track its progress. There’s information especially for parents at www.ucas.com/parents, including details of the application process, a host of helpful video guides, and a link to sign up for our monthly parent newsletters.

What is Which? University? Which? University is a website designed to help students make the right higher education decision for them, and is brought to you by the consumer champion Which?. It’s free, independent, takes no advertising, and brings together all the official facts and stats about degree courses, combined with unbiased expert advice and analysis.
FE,

Head to www.which.co.uk/university to explore the website and sign up for our free email alerts at www.which.co.uk/parentemails, packed with timely advice ahead of key decisions.

Sign up for the Parent Newsletter https://web.ucas.com/parents-signup

Download the 2018 Parent Guide UCAS Parent Guide 2018