Helping your child with their future career plans

As a parent, you are likely to be the single biggest influence on your child’s thoughts and feelings about their future career. You are reading this because you care deeply about them having a happy and productive life.

It is really important that you are aware of the influence you have and that you try your best to make this positive, supportive and empowering rather than negative, restricting or forceful.

A good parent helps their child the most when they:
have a good general understanding of the options available
listen carefully to their child’s views without being judgmental or critical
are open to new ideas and possibilities
encourage them to explore all their options

How can I help my child with their career plans?

These are some possible ways to consider:
Talk to them from time to time about possible careers they might be interested in and why they appeal. Don’t make a big deal out of it.

There will be plenty of opportunities for such an exchange of ideas that crop up naturally while you are doing something else. This way it won’t seem forced or patronising to your child.
Encourage them to take an interest in the occupations or past careers of grown up family members and other adults who they come into contact with.

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Ask them about the help available in their school. Is there a careers library? Are there careers programs they can access on the school’s computers? Are there careers lessons or special sessions related to the world of work, job applications etc?

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Some schools arrange for their students to complete a career interests questionnaire. Check whether this will happen with your child. If so, it is an excellent opportunity to start a natural, unforced conversation about their future options.

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Help them to explore the possible employers, apprenticeship providers and further education courses available in your area. You should be able to find lots of useful information on these things on the web site of your local council. Keep an eye out for things like open days (at colleges and training organisations) and careers fairs.

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Encourage them to participate in out of school activities. These are valuable in themselves and will help greatly later on in giving a good impression to people like employers or course tutors.

If a careers adviser attends parents evenings take advantage of this opportunity to gather useful information and broaden out your child’s career thinking. They will probably find this a little embarrassing so hang back and give them the chance to ask their own questions in their own way.
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Encourage your child to seek advice when necessary from a careers adviser.
Encourage them to prepare properly for this discussion.
Check whether the school has a formal work experience programme. If not, check out the possibility of arranging something yourself with work colleagues or friends or otherwise get them to do a part time job to give them the experience of earning some money.

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Remember that career choice is a personal decision. Do not try to steer your child to a particular career because you think you know best or because it is a job you might like.

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