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Helping Your Child Prepare For Working Life

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 4 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Tips On Preparing Child For Working Life

Every parent wants the best for their children and when they enter their teenage years, most parents will begin to start thinking about what kind of job or career profession their child might enter into and how they can help them to achieve their goals. For some children, they will be just as keen to start looking at career or job options when their in their early teens and will actively seek out advice from their parents.

Then there are those teens who have already decided what career path or occupation they want to pursue and who do very well on their own in terms of seeking out the information and advice from others outside of the family and who would prefer to be left to just get on with it. However, there are many teenagers for whom thoughts of a job or a career are not even on their agenda and, even at school leaving age, if they’ve no inclination to go on to further education, they still might not have the foggiest idea of what they might want to do.

Whichever category your child might fall into, there are ways in which you can help and, equally, there are ways which you can hinder a child in this regard and it’s important you strike a balance. Naturally, the ways in which you go about doing this will vary depending on the co-operation and enthusiasm of your child but here is some practical general advice.

Choosing Options For GCSE

Quite often, the first point at which you’ll usually find yourself seriously discussing work and career options with your child is in Year 9 when they need to be thinking about what options to take at GCSE. It’s an ideal opportunity for a parent to start to introduce the idea to their child of what types of jobs or career options they might want to look at in the future if you haven’t done this already.

However, it’s important to do it tactfully and to also allow your child to be in full control of their choices, as opposed to trying to ‘manipulate’ them into choosing options which you think they should be doing. You should see yourself as simply providing guidance and no more than that.

Further Education Or Work Or Both?

Whilst choosing GCSEs can be a very important milestone and the beginning of the long road towards preparing your child for working life, it’s useful to keep everything in perspective and to remember that ‘academia’ isn’t the ‘be all and end all’ of your child’s road to a satisfying job or career.

Only you as parents and your child themselves as well as their teachers at school will have a firm perspective on what type of child they are and where their future might lie when it comes to their future working life and the options are quite vast.

More often than not, however, the various steps you and your child will discuss as they progress through their GCSE options will be focused around either continuing with full-time education, getting a job or combining further education in a work based setting. The options include:

  • Staying on at sixth-form at school or finding a sixth-form college or some other kind of further education college or vocational course provider
  • Starting a work based apprenticeship
  • Finding a job
  • Doing voluntary work or increasing their life and work skills by spending some time in temporary or casual jobs and/or travelling and, perhaps, working overseas
  • Setting up in business themselves (not as common but not unheard of)

When Your Teenager Has No Idea What They Want To Do

All the advice so far is all very well for parents of teenagers who have a good idea of where they see their future lying but what about those whose teenagers who simply have no idea what job or career path they want to pursue when they leave school? For those parents, it’s often a good idea to sit down with your child (if they are willing to do so) and start to discuss things which make your child ‘tick’.

You’ll know as much as anyone about the kinds of things that motivates them so a good idea is to start by talking about things they enjoy doing, i.e. subjects at school, hobbies and activities they like to pursue, their likes and dislikes, what things they do well and what things they value in life now and the issues they think will be important to them in the future.

In doing this and making a note of their responses, it’s often a useful way to gently introduce a range of possible job or career options to them that they might not have thought about previously. If you don’t feel confident about doing this, it can often help to do it in conjunction with a career advisor at their school.

What You Shouldn’t Do As Parents

Always, keep at the forefront of your mind that it’s their life and their future not yours. Whilst you can help advise and gently probe and occasionally ‘prod’, you should not impose your own ideas on your child nor make any negative comments about your child’s choices. Ultimately, the vast majority of teenagers find their own ‘niche’ in life eventually. Some take longer than others and some do have a clearly defined path whilst others may take a rather more circuitous route. As a parent, all you can do is listen, offer the best advice you can and, above all else, support your child in whatever decision they take.

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