Talking Futures: Parents and careers decision-making

  • Research shows parents have a strong influence on young people’s decisions but need good information on careers and education options to empower them to hold well-informed conversations.

  • Research into parents’ views on careers education from 2019 shows that parents like to feel involved and informed and believe young people should take their views into account when making important decisions.

  • Many start conversations about choices as early as Year 7, and continue to have them as young people grow older. And these conversations have an impact. Further research from Autumn 2020, shows that four in five parents note action was taken as a result of their conversations.

How parental engagement helps young people

The benefits can be far-reaching. Research supported by the Gatsby Foundation from the Warwick Institute of Employment Research (2019), found that it supports the development of:

  • Information-seeking and research behaviours.

  • Self-efficacy, career decision-making and confidence.

  • Planning, goal-setting and creating a sense of direction.

  • Career adaptability and flexibility.

  • Employability skills, such as entrepreneurship and team working.

Involving parents in careers can also:

  • Enable you to draw on them as a valuable resource – as members of the community, they may be able help offer encounters with employers or provide experiences of the workplace. (Gatsby Benchmarks 5 and 6).

  • Encourage wider parental engagement with other areas of school or college life.

The support parents need

The education and careers landscape has transformed since many parents left full-time education. As a result, they may not have a full picture of the options available to young people today. We know that many parents believe that their experience of career guidance at school or college was poor, which may contribute to disengagement with their child’s school or college programme. To improve engagement and support their conversations with young people, parents need to know about:

  • How your careers programme works and the support you offer for young people and parents – it’s best to cover this early with new parents.
  • The stages involved in careers decision-making and the choices along the way. 
  • The routes available at each stage and what they involve.
  • National and institution-level data on the number of young people choosing each route.
  • Further career and labour market information. 

We have used our research to develop a better understanding of parents at different stages of engagement and suggest targeted approaches for each group. Find out more by clicking on the resources below.