It's time to bring parents into the conversation around young people's career choices

It's time to bring parents into the conversation around young people's career choices

Despite the fact that it’s taken me almost 20 years to figure out what career I was a) good at/suited for and b) I might want to focus on for the foreseeable future - the world of work is changing so fast right now that I’m happy to accept that the era of the lifelong job has long passed - I don’t attribute blame to my parents, and I never have. They grew up in a different time to the one that I did. The world was a different place. The only similarities I’ve been able to draw between 1999 (the first time I started to think seriously about my career choices post-GCSE) and today is the feeling of uncertainty we were facing, and even that’s clutching at straws as I’m pretty confident that the fear of the millennium bug doesn’t really stack up against Brexit…! That aside I’m increasingly feeling like we are stuck on repeat - with the same ill-informed careers advice being passed from generation in our families. The advice that tells us time and time again that university is the key to success.

The reality is that it’s not.

There are alternative career pathways that lead to the same great career prospects, but they are continually ignored. We’re blind to them. I was blind to them 20 years ago. No one told me about them - granted they weren’t as popular or readily available as they are today - after all, my future had been laid two years earlier after sitting a careers test right? I was going to be a florist, or a lawyer (read more about that here). Clearly my parents knew that was a load of rubbish, and instead instilled working values into me that have helped my career go from strength to strength.

So how do we solve this issue to ensure that our young people are supported and given all of the information that they need to make better, more informed career choices? By bringing parents into the thick of the conversation with the aim of educating them about how the world of work has changed, is changing and will look considerably different from what they experienced. Sadly, today’s annual LinkedIn ‘Bring in Your Parent’ day is a missed opportunity to facilitate this. A day designed to thank our parents for the support that they have given us. A day to educate our parents on what we grew up to become. Where we spend our professional lives. The people we work with. The difference we make in the world.

“Recently turned self-employed working from home on his laptop with lots of meetings and great contacts to help with his busy workload”

My mum’s definition of my job - #BIYP2018

For the last 5 years of my career the topic of parental engagement has always been ‘on the table’ and last year I finally led one of the first attempts to breakthrough the noise (or lack of depending on how you think about it?) with EY’s ‘Parental Advice’ campaign. The parents that I met as a result of that campaign wanted to learn. They wanted to work in partnership with their children to help them make the right choice. They could also see the challenges they were starting to face in an ambiguous, fast-changing world, and were keen to take the advice being given by our experts (myself included) to help them too.

This is so much more than talking about the elephant in the room. Let’s super-charge that conversation and finally make the change that’s needed, happen!

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Related article:

Why are we so blind to apprenticeships?

Read here.


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