Data: Influencing career choices

Aug 29, 2018 | Apprentices & school leaver

Amber Trott, Marketing Lead at Pathway CTM shares its latest research on school leaver decision-making.

Deciding on a career path can be a difficult and confusing time for many school leavers. They not only have to please themselves, but also their parents and schools. 

When I looked at previous studies I found that parents have the greatest influence over their child’s future, with over half having an opinion on their choice of career. Parents have their own ideas about what defines success, how to become successful and what they believe to be an aspirational job. 

I know from my own experience; my parents were adamant I was going to university and I didn’t question it. I was the first in my family who had the grades to get in, so naturally university seemed to be the next step for me.  Like myself, many students are happy to listen to their parents’ advice and trust their opinions. However, you could argue that as only 27% of parents are likely to discuss alternatives to university, their advice could result in their children not making fully informed career choices. 

To investigate this further Pathway CTM surveyed 400 students from our programme to find out how they make career decisions and who their biggest influencers are.

Careers Education

Nearly three quarters of our students would choose employability and careers services to find out more about opportunities or to get advice. While teachers ranked second, students were also keen to hear directly from employers, either through their own websites or speaking to them at careers events. Parents were further down the list with 45% of students sharing that they would go to them for information.

Key Influencers

Despite this, parents are still ranked as the most influential when their child is deciding about their future, followed by careers events then employability and careers services. This suggests that although students may not see their parents as a source of information, once they have the information available to them, they want their parents’ approval on the final decisions they make.

Winning over the influencer

It’s evident that parents are the main influencers when it comes to their child’s ultimate career decision. This can be an issue if parents do not understand all of the options available to their children. They could be encouraging a path which isn’t right for their child. Companies are recognising that the need to engage and influence parents is key. If parents are educated they will be best placed to support the decisions their children are making.

Our CEO Chris McNamara’s advice

  • If you are not engaging parents now, start doing so.
  • Speaking to students, teachers and parents indicates that physical engagement is the most effective method of informing students about career options.
  • Events can be an excellent way to spread positive messages about your company and the opportunities available.
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