How You Can Help Your Child Make Careers Decisions

Most parents worry about being able to provide the right advice to their children as they prepare for adulthood and many parents are not aware of the options and services available to their teenagers once they leave statutory education.

Parents play an important part in preparing their child for adulthood and the time to start doing that is from year 9 onwards. Making life choices has never been easy and the world of work is now so complex that you both need to do careful research and planning. Here are some tips to help you:


Remain positive

No matter how complex and daunting career planning and job searching may be, most young people do find a place in education, work or training at 16.


Help to build a positive self-image for them

Build on their achievements, both in and out of school. Believe in them.


Allow for a change in direction

Few young people choose a job from an early age and never waiver in their choice. Be prepared for your teenager to change direction, encourage them to explore other options and, most importantly, to have back-up plans.


Encourage them to learn from their mistakes

Discovering that a previous job idea is not for them is a positive step in the decision making process. It helps them focus on a job or option that will suit them better.


Encourage them to research industry sectors that interest them

When your teenager expresses an interest in a particular job or course, help them to establish links and encourage them to volunteer or do work experience.


Share your experiences

Remembering that education and opportunities are different now, talk to your teenager about your own experiences of work and study. It is helpful for them to understand the problems you have faced and how you dealt with them.


Respect their feelings and privacy

Is there someone else they can trust and confide in? A relative, family friend or professional? No matter how strongly you may feel about what your children are doing, there are times when you need to be able to step back from the situation.


Try to avoid asking them questions such as ‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’

These questions are very confronting; instead take the opportunity to talk about job and life choices whenever they come up, for example, when you are passing a building site or hospital.

You know them better than anyone, so you can help by:

  • discussing what suits them best, to help them work out which option to choose;
  • talking to teachers to find out how well they are doing;
  • thinking about ways they like to learn;
  • finding out as much as possible yourself about what’s on offer – new courses, the types jobs and work experience available and financial support.


Key options at Year 11

  • Sixth form (either at their own school, another school or a sixth form college).
  • Further education college.
  • An apprenticeship/traineeship/supported internship
  • A job with training.


Key steps

In the autumn term of Year 11 students will be:

  • Exploring the options open to them
  • Going along to talks and open events at local schools and colleges that interest them;
  • Finding out about the local job market and apprenticeships (possibly applying for apprenticeships with national companies);
  • Making decisions;
  • Starting to apply for entry to school sixth form and/or colleges.

In the spring term of Year 11 students will be:

  • Continuing with applications for learning;
  • Planning for transition.


Finding a job

Information about training, job search and other career options. Visit the finding a job webpage.


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Last modified: February 27, 2024