9 Out Of 10 Parents Act As The Primary Source Of Career Information For Their Children - Career HQ
89% of school leavers in 2017 looked to mum or dad as their first source career information, so how as a parent do you provide your children with the proper advice?
Career Information
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9 Out Of 10 Parents Act As The Primary Source Of Career Information For Their Children

According to popular school careers site The Footnotes, 89% of school leavers in 2017 looked to mum or dad as their first source career information.

The question therefore is – why is this the case and how many parents feel qualified to provide their children with the proper advice?

Career Information

The future of work and education is becoming an increasingly topical matter, and one that is difficult for the experts to agree on let alone poor mums and dads who are flat out coming to terms with this in their own careers, on top of meeting school fees and the rising cost of living.

The common statistics can be frightening;

  • 85% of careers people will be employed in by 2030 don’t exist today (According to Dell Technologies), others have it around 50%.
  • Students leaving school will experience 17 jobs across 5 different careers (McCrindle Research)
  • More than half of employers said tertiary credentials in management and commerce, creative arts and information technology were not relevant for the jobs in question. (Australian Industry Group)


What this means is that traditional career advice offers a limited viewpoint, and dynamic and personalised advice is highly necessary. Gone are the days where a parent could advise their child on a ‘safe’ career or course of study, because even the most traditional career paths such as accounting, law or medicine are facing disruption by technology and machine learning/AI.

Sources of Career Information

So in this environment, apart from you as a parent, who can else can your children turn to for career advice?

A logical place to look would be the educational institutions which are preparing them for work, right?

Having worked with some amazing careers advisors in the education sector in the last few years, there is some great work being done in this space – however, the reality for many educational institutions is that this is not a highly prioritised area and the numbers support this observation;

In the 2017 spring edition of the Career Development Association of Australia magazine, they again refer to McCrindle’s research in to Career Practitioners in Australia highlighting the following trends;

  1. Over 50% of careers advisors in schools are part-time.
  2. More than 25% had their time allowance decreased in recent years.
  3. 1 in 4 don’t know what their budget is; of those that do, 1 in 3 have less than $1000 per annum for an entire school; and 1 in 2 schools spend less than $3 per student on career advice.

See the McCrindle infographic here

In schools, universities and vocational education institutions, the ratio of careers advisors to students can be as high as 1 : 1200. This is largely because our educational institutions are focused and marketed on the attainment of a mark or certificate, not of the future employment and life outcomes of their programs.

Schools are ranked on academic performance starting with NAPLAN, then state University entrance schemes like ATAR’s or OP’s. Universities are often ranked by research outcomes not employment opportunities.

In 2017 the 40 universities in Australia spent a record $348 million on marketing to entice your children to come and study with them, and whilst some unis have started to improve graduate employment outcomes, these vary greatly by institution and by course.

With so much uncertainty, structural change and general noise – how do you safeguard your child’s future and happiness when they come looking to you for advice?

The best help you can give them is NOT to make the decision for them, but to give them the tools to make decisions for themselves both now and in the future;

  1. Help them organise their thinking first

With so many options available to them, and so much to consider – providing assistance to help them create an initial shortlist of interests is a great place to start. This can be done using any number of methods, but a lot of the better online career development tools are very useful here – as long as they allows the user to have some autonomy in choosing their outcomes…not simply using an algorithm to churn out 50 careers that might suit them.

Check out our tool the CareerHQ Compass here.

2. Let them lead the conversation

Once they have created their shortlist – let them lead the conversation, and simply ask them to clarify why they chose that career, what interests them about it, where they learned about it and how much they know about the actual career. This will allow you to realise whether they are simply interested in forensic science because their favourite show is CSI or they want to become a stockbroker because someone’s parent who does that drives a Porsche, or they have well thought rationale behind their decisions.

3. Research the actual job requirements, conditions, and future outlook

At this age, one of the biggest hurdles to career decisions is the reality that students ‘don’t know what they don’t know’, and let’s face it – if you haven’t worked in that industry or role…nor do you. Researching the nuts and bolts of the job are very important to help your child have the full picture. Look for job descriptions, skill requirements, working conditions (this lends to whether it is a behavioural fit or not) and entry level education. This will quickly help your child know whether it is a suitable option in terms of their interests, skills, and whether it ‘feels’ like them or not. We have a database of over 900 occupations and 6700 courses available here.

4. Encourage them to talk to people currently studying or working in this field

We all know there is a difference between reading about something and experiencing it for yourself – so where possible get your child to do some work experience, otherwise talk to people who have walked the path they are planning to take. You don’t need to do this with every option, but its is advised for the top 2 – 3 considerations. This also gives them the opportunity to ask questions and learn first hand what the study, job, work environment and culture of these career path are actually like.

What Gen Y and Z want from a work environment can be considerably different from the baby boomers, with opportunities to learn and grow; quality of management and overall interest in the work ranked highly in a recent Harvard Business School report

5. Help them paint a picture of how work will fit in to their broader life.

Lastly, we all want our children to be happy as well as successful – so imparting in them the need to create balance in their lives is also an important consideration. Building self esteem and identity around success in only one area of life has been shown to increase stress, burnout and the likelihood of adverse mental health, so advising them on taking time to build in other interests and social groups is sound advice. We offer an ‘Ideal Day’ exercise through our Career Success Kit here which is a great exercise to assist with this.

This may seem like common sense, but when put on the spot, it is very easy for us to offer our own biased view on study or careers. It is important to take the time to realise that our views alone may not be the best advice for the individual interests of your child, and the modern realities of work and study decisions. We hope that these frameworks may act as a guide to ensure that as parents, when called upon, you can provide career information to give your child the best options in life.