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5 Strategies to Start a Careers Conversation With Your Child

28th Oct 2020

Recently, there has been a lot of research showing that young people start thinking about their future careers as early as four years old. 'Drawing the Future' is one piece of research that reveals the difference between young people’s career aspirations from the age of seven to seventeen are marginal, with many aspirations found to be inspired from watching TV and films or social media.

So how do you approach talking about careers with your child? In this blog we'll be sharing top tips to help you and your child take a fresh approach to having conversations about their future.

  1. Create opportunities for career exposure 

Consider what is around you in your local area that could prompt career conversations. Is there a new housing estate or shopping centre being built? As you walk or drive past, you could talk about all the different roles this could involve. When young people think about construction jobs, they will often know about the trade roles available, but there are so many other roles included in the building process such as accountancy, architecture and surveying that they may not have considered.

When you go food shopping, what retail jobs are they aware of? As well as customer service staff, consider the roles in retail that aren’t on public view such as digital jobs, personnel, marketing, HR, finance and management roles. You could discuss together how all the food and products got to the store, and who made it possible such as the farmers, food engineers and the logistics sector in delivering the food to the stores.

You could also look up landmark entertainment destinations online such as Alton Towers, Lego Land, Harry Potter World, Sea Life Centre, and Disney World. Check their websites to have a look at all the different careers your child could enjoy with a brand they love.

  1. Model curiosity 

Model curiosity about the work of others. Pose questions that you can explore together further, such as What does a chef do each day? What decisions do they have to make? What do they like about their job? How did they become a chef? What qualifications would they have needed? Curiosity can encourage young people to explore and ask their own questions, bringing the topic of careers into everyday conversations. Websites where you can gather further information about individual job role requirements are Prospects and National Careers Service job profiles.

  1. Look into the process 

Encourage young people’s understanding of the individual steps involved with career choice and attainment. For example: How do you become a doctor? Brainstorm steps together such as complete A Levels in Chemistry and Biology, volunteer in a hospital, go to university to study medicine. These discussions will help young people develop a deeper understanding of different careers and what is required to access them.

  1. Talk to experienced professionals 

By having conversations with professionals about their careers, you may find out interesting facts that surprise you. Young people tend to find out about careers that may interest them by asking individuals they already know. Help your child to widen their network by speaking to your professional friends or family members to broaden career aspirations beyond their current circle of influence. We also encourage that every young person asks for a meeting with their school careers adviser too. Our team of Careers Advisers can support young people to explore all options, link interests to careers, help them discover their skills, and create an action plan to help them reach their desired career goal.

  1. Ask employers for a shadow day or work experience placement

Once you have an idea of a select few careers that may interest and suit your child, look for local companies nearby that offer these career opportunities. Young people can ask employers if they can pop in for a shadow day to experience a day in the life of one of the employees whose job they are interested in, such as the Marketers job, the Accountant, or Dentist. Some companies can offer a longer-term work experience placement for a week, or the option of a few evenings/weekends. This helps to expose young people to the reality of a role and to test out whether it really does interest them. When applying to university, apprenticeships or employment, having experience of relevant work placements on your CV helps you to really stand out, with many University admissions departments favouring students who have work experience under their belt.

If you would like in-person or virtual work experience support we are running a project called My Choices for young people, who have recently left school or college, to gain valuable volunteering and work experience placements with local organisations across Dorset. UK wide companies you can contact for virtual work experience are Speakers for Schools and Barclay Life Skills.