While 80 per cent of youth look to their parents for career direction, only 20 per cent of parents believe they have the current knowledge and skills to assist.
Parents, as well as grandparents, relatives or neighbours can encourage young people to explore the wealth of career opportunities and education and training pathways available. Its been said some young people will spend more time search for their first car, than planning career paths and subject selections.
1# Encourage rich conversations about career options
Rather than directly asking, “What are you going to do when you leave school?” encourage conversations about a range of career options, at least 3 ideas. For example, use the opportunity when a news item or TV series features various careers, or when the local TAFE or university open day is approaching. Make the conversation open and varied, rather than set on a strict pathway. Not all people are suited to university and not all people are suited to pursue a trade.
2# Focus on individual gifts and talents
Every young person has a unique set of gifts and talents inside them. Acknowledge their efforts in all activities, i.e. participation in sport, community activities, setting goals and achieving them. Show them you believe in them by congratulating success in the fields they enjoy and encouraging them if they’re struggling. Not only does this help young people understand what they’re good at in different situations, it helps develop a healthy work ethic.
3# Help establish links in their interest field
When a teenager begins to express an interest in a particular career, if possible, help them to establish links with someone in that field. Maybe they’re interested in becoming an electrician and you know someone who owns their own electrician business, make an effort to connect them so the young person can hear about what it’s really like and career paths into the industry. Work experience can help validate a career interest, or potentially avoid enrolling in expensive courses, only later to discover they really don’t like the work.
4# Be open and share personal experience
Talk to teenagers about your own experiences of work and study and your reasons for your choice. Why do you love your job. Don’t be afraid to speak openly about both the positive and negative aspects of the jobs you have done. Most adults can speak of career set backs, and how they eventually overcame them. In this way we help young people build resilience ready to push through all of life’s challenges .
5# Encourage VET subjects
Encourage teenagers to consider selecting a vocational subject (referred to as VET) as a year 11 and 12 option. This may still be counted towards their Australian Tertiary Admissions Ranking (ATAR) while also providing the opportunity to obtain the practical skills and experience so highly valued by industry.
6# Don’t stand by convention
Remind teenagers there are always new jobs being created and that skills can be applied to different areas of work, so they should always keep their options open and consider new areas of work and interests. Many jobs that thrive now didn’t exist 20 years ago, and many jobs aren’t obvious or common but still exist! Encourage them to research jobs in their interest area even if they can’t think of any, you’d be surprised by how many jobs exist that aren’t commonly known.
7# Encourage them to seek guidance
Encourage them to talk with their career or year advisor. All schools have many resources to assist youth with their career choices. Talking to a career advisor can be helpful even to just explore the options around and get advice about how their current skills might be furthered. Maybe they really love sport but don’t know how to turn that into a career, advisors have a bank of knowledge about different aspects of industries and how to pursue those avenues.