Helping young people make education and career choices

A mother and daughter chatting on a sofa.

Parents, carers and guardians can provide valuable support to young people making education and careers choices.

You do not need to have all of the answers, but listening to young people and exploring different education and careers choices with them can make a big impact.

It's never too early to start the conversation about their next steps. This advice is designed to help guide you through that conversation with a young person.

Remember, you do not have to cover everything during one conversation. You can have as many conversations as you need and pick up where you left off.

Help them assess their skills and interests

You could start by getting them to talk about what they're good at and what interests them. If they find this hard, they might want to take a short assessment to help them identify some of their skills.

You can use the results of the assessment to look at some of the suggested careers together. You could talk about:

  • the different careers and whether they have anything in common
  • which careers they do and do not like and why

This should help them understand what interests them and could be used to start exploring different careers.

Work out what options are available to them

It's a good idea for young people to explore the different education and career options available to them. Whether they've already had some thoughts about what they want to do next, or if they do not have any ideas, it's helpful to find out about all of the choices available.

Doing this can help to open up new ideas and allows them to challenge any assumptions they have. 

You could explore different careers that are available, make a note of the ones that interest them and look for related careers.

It's important to encourage them to explore different careers, not just the ones they know about.

Help decide which of the options are best for them

Once you have a good idea of what options are available, work with the young person to start to look in more detail at the specific careers that interest them.

For each job, help them find out:

  • what qualifications they will need
  • what the day to day tasks are
  • what the job progression possibilities are

Keep a record of which careers you've looked at and how suitable they are.

Two parents laughing and talking to their daughter on a sofa.

Outline their next steps

Once you've got a list of potential careers that the young person is interested in, you can start to plan how to get there. Even if they have not decided exactly what they're aiming for, knowing about the different routes and options is a good place to start.

The Skills for Careers young people area is a great place for young people to start if they want to know more about all of the education and training options available to them. 

Speak to an adviser

If the young person is at school or college they can speak to their careers leader about working with a careers adviser to discuss their next steps. You should be able to find the name and contact details of the careers leader and a summary of the careers programme on the school or college website.

Those over the age of 13 can chat to a National Careers Service careers adviser. If they're under 13, it's okay for a parent, carer or guardian to call on their behalf.

Special educational needs (SEND) advice

We provide education advice for young people who are disabled or have special educational needs.

It may help them choose what they'd like to do next.

Getting the conversation started

Talking Futures have designed conversation cards to help you and your young person build a picture of the sectors and careers that interest them.