Parents are in the Dark about Their Children’s Career Options

School-leavers turn mainly to their parents for careers advice but half of mums and dads feel they don’t have sufficient knowledge to offer guidance, studies have shown. According to an Ernst & Young (EY) research, most children (42%) initially discuss future job options at home, followed by 26% who look for advice online and 17% who speak to careers advisors.

More importantly, in a separate study from EY which questioned 1,000 parents with children between 15 and 25, nearly half (48%) of the respondents said they did not fully understand the options available to their children after A-Levels. Besides, 54% of parents said they did not fully understand the long term implications for their children's careers.

Parents are Concerned About University Fees

In addition, 78% of mums and dads expressed concern about the prohibitive cost of higher education as university fees promise to leave graduates with thousands of pounds of debt, while youth unemployment remains at 20% despite recently falling by 1 percentage point. This may explain why such a high proportion of parents (79%) told the study they were worried their children would struggle to find a job after graduation.

Most parents (56%) also felt that helping their children to make career choices was more stressful than moving home or job.

The survey also revealed a difference in perception between parents and employers in the value of going to university. EY’s survey found that while 89% of parents regard a degree as the main benefit of going to university, almost all employers (98%) felt that students who had completed work experience were the most valuable recruits for their organisation.

Parents ‘Push’ Children Towards Careers

Despite parents’ ignorance about their children’s career options, findings by British Glass uncovered that six in ten parents admit to trying to push their child down a particular career route. Parents are trying to convince their offspring to follow in their footsteps, wanting the best for them and preventing them from making the same mistakes they did.

27% of parents admit they just come out and tell their child exactly what they want them to do. Almost four in ten have even rowed with their children because they were trying to talk them into something or they were making a decision they didn’t agree with.

The study also found that one in five parents are more likely to try and influence their daughters’ choices, compared to just 13% who heap more pressure on their sons.

The head of student recruitment at Ernst & Young, Julie Stanbridge, argued that “Every parent wants to give their children the best possible start in life and they naturally feel the weight of responsibility that comes with helping them make the right decision at a crossroads in their education”. She then went to add that “As employers, it’s vital that we help to bridge the gap, to ensure parents, schools and students are armed with the information they need to make an informed decision”.

Finally, the studies cited indicate that parents are not adequately armed with all the information they need to give their children proper career advice. Parents fear failing their children with ill-informed jobs advice because they don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the educational and career options available in the market.

Perhaps this is the reason why parents urge their children to follow their career paths, and are hesitant to provide them with the freedom to choose another career route which in the parents’ view might not guarantee job security, prosperity, etc.