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Eight in 10 parents say child has 'no clear idea' of post-school plans

Career advice still believed to be in short supply

Almost eight out of 10 (79%) parents believe their child doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want to do after finishing education, according to research from GTI Media and EY.

A quarter (25%) of parents were not aware of their child receiving any careers advice at school, and more than half (51%) stated their child had received ‘some but not enough’.

The research also found that university continues to be the route most heavily promoted by schools, with 37% of parents reporting that their child’s school promotes this as ‘the best route to take’.

However, only 1% of parents said they knew ‘a lot’ about school leaver programmes. Only 6% knew of vocational further education courses, and just 9% were fully aware of apprenticeships or higher apprenticeship programmes.

EY UK & Ireland managing partner for talent Maggie Stilwell said the survey points to a “guidance gap” between what parents expect their role to be and their level of knowledge. “While parents are aware of their influential position over such an important decision, they are looking to be better armed with resources to help ensure they are able to give the best advice possible,” she said.

“In the absence of information and awareness about alternative career routes – such as apprenticeships or school leaver schemes – university can often become the default option.”

Matt Dacey, director of products and services at GTI Media, added: “The research highlights the extent to which parents and schools still see university as a default [career] route for young people.

"Employers are having difficulty promoting alternatives to university, particularly at a time when professions from accountancy and financial services through to engineering are looking to increase their school leaver intake through the creation of exciting new alternatives. The need to engage and support parents with information about these would seem more important than ever.”

Stilwell suggested that young people should be encouraged to develop “key life skills” that translate well into the workplace.

“This doesn’t have to mean a month-long internship though, or a gap year in Tibet,” she said. “These are skills that can be honed at a Saturday job in a supermarket or even on the school football or netball team.”