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Do Parents Play a Role in Career Education?
Young person working from home


It is good to acknowledge that a young person’s career choice is supported and framed in an educational setting. Career leaders, IAG guidance, and teachers play a key role in supporting and guiding students through careers education.  How lovely it is when a young person returns to say “thank you”.  We all have memories of making a difference to the destinations of young people and this is the reason we entered the profession.

However, the current C-19 pandemic has challenged preconceived ideas and moved us into new areas of thinking - this is especially important related to careers.

Less time in the education setting means that many parents are supporting more than ever their young person’s decision-making process. In this new world, young people are requiring support from their parents, relatives and significant others to help them navigate their career pathway.


What is parents career support and what does it look like?


Family working together


It is defined by a most recent study:

  • Supporting Skill Development
  • Career-related modelling – parents own examples
  • Verbal encouragement – praise associated with educational and career development
  • Emotional support – parent support of student experiences

It has been identified that parent engagement can take many roles.  For example, it can support 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, flexibility and employability skills (entrepreneurship and team working)


What about students who are looked after, vulnerable, or children in care?


Young people working together in an office


What is known is that they do not often have parent support and therefore can be disadvantaged in receiving information, confidence, encouragement, and directional guidance or the aspirational support that young people value which parents provide.  In this case it may be one of many influencers – the internet, peer group, youth worker, or even siblings providing this sounding board of advice. 

We must not forget that for many students – they may only have one parent, be looked after by a grandparent, or living on their own in self-supported accommodation.  So if we value that parents are valuable, we must look at other supportive ways to sustain and work with these students – this may be through a mentoring role of a significant another person.

What is known about the value of parent advice? 


Guardian with young person doing homework


The findings through research are very clear – parent advice is valued and plays an important role:

  • The home environment is emerging as a significant factor for a young person’s career development
  • Parents and their experiences influence their advice and expectations
  • Young people do value parental support
  • Shared career conversations created shared career aspirations, improved educational attainment and increased motivation


How can schools better help parents to be more informed and confident in their support?


Top view of a desk


Recent feedback and guidance from research identifies a few key areas:

  • Collaboration between school and parents – a good example case study is the Wiltshire Parent Pledge
  • Designing new activities to engage parents which are activity related
  • Promoting and communicating careers information creatively using technology
  • Providing CPD to all staff to support careers professionals and education staff


What we need to continue to explore?

Clearly, parental involvement is a key factor in shaping career outcomes. The current situation will allow greater opportunity to harness new ways of working with parents, albeit remotely at present!  It would be good to harness such learning for future work:

  • Finding out what support has been helpful during this time?
  • Listening to parent feedback – parent voice is a powerful tool
  • Seeking to involve parents as well as students in careers activity – a move away from more passive engagement to more active engagement.


It may be that providing IAG advice virtually with young people and their parents or providing on-line web support for parents is the way forward.  What is true is that we are all learning new ways of supporting our young people at this time and some new methods will frame our work in the future.



Warwick Institute for Employment Research and webinar, the Education and Employability website The Careers and Enterprise Company: Inspiring Worcester Careers Hub Parent Pledge