Career Planning for Your Child

As a parent you have a key role to play in supporting your child with their career choice. You are the first point of call for career development information, advice and guidance. Your attitude can have a powerful impact on your child’s career development and how they manage their careers lifelong. Having a positive attitude, watching for activities your child is involved in and looking at their careers as journeys are some of the ways you can support your child to prepare for their future and be adaptable to change.

A career is no longer one job for life. A career includes a lifetime of experiences including periods of education, training, paid employment, unpaid employment, unemployment, volunteer work and life roles. Young people need the skills, knowledge and capabilities to navigate through these various experiences, and use resilience to move forward when their preferred option does not follow a direct pathway.

In 1995, Canadian career development leaders Pat Butter, Donna Davidson, Barrie Day, Aryeh Gitterman, Helen Hackett, Tracy Lamb, John McCormick, Dave Redekopp and Michele Tocher created the High Five Principles of career development. These five key principles reflect the contemporary understanding of career. You can begin your careers conversation with your child by drawing on these High Five Principles:

  1. Know yourself, believe in yourself and follow your heart
  2. Change is constant
  3. Learning is ongoing
  4. Focus on the journey
  5. Access your allies

Career conversations

You can start a conversation when your child asks questions about life after school. Talk about the world of work as you have experienced it. Share some of your work and life experiences and those of other family members and friends. Encourage them to reflect on their experiences with questions such as:

  • What is it about _____ that interests you?
  • What did you learn about yourself from that experience?
  • How could you get experience in that field of work?
  • I wonder what qualifications might be required for that field of work.
  • Which is your preference of an university? Is this university reputable and strong in your choice of major? Have you thought about doing an apprenticeship?
  • Who could you talk with to get more information or careers advice about that field of work?

The most important thing is to be positive about the ideas and choices made by your child and their chances of finding a satisfying career path. This needs to include a consideration of their aptitudes (what they are good at), interests (what they like or enjoy doing), values (what is important to them), aspirations (what they want to achieve) and skills (what they can do).