Parents holding tech career ambitions back

CSR has a key role to play in ensuring parents' lack of confidence online doesn't hold their children back

Nearly half (49%) of British children would like a career in technology, but only 11% of parents encourage them to use tech to develop their skills, according to research from O2.

Its survey of 2,000 parents and 2,000 children found that ‘vlogger’ topped the list of children’s dream careers (30%), followed by animator (15%), software developer (14%), web designer (12%) and coder (12%).

However, while three-quarters (75%) of parents talk to their children every day about what they do at school, only around a third (36%) said they ask about what they do online each day. A tenth (3.6%) of those cited lack of confidence on how to talk to young people about risks and opportunities online.

O2’s director of sustainability and corporate responsibility Bill Eyres said: “Our research shows that children are excited by the opportunities that technology can bring. We also know parents want to encourage their children to embrace technology and futureproof their career paths, but in spite of this some are still nervous of actively supporting their children to enjoy the online world.”

Michelle Perkins, director of the schools outreach programme at Capgemini, said that employers and HR can play a critical role in devising outreach activities aimed at parents.

“Whether it’s parents, guardians, grandparents or siblings, a person’s first role model is typically their immediate family. They set the career tone for children and heavily influence the level of education or training received. This shapes the foundations of their future career path,” she told HR magazine.

“The problem is that, more often than not, a parent’s view of the job market hasn’t kept pace with what’s happening in real life – new roles are created daily, some of which are in areas that didn’t exist a decade ago. Nowhere is this more true than for the technology sector. Which is where businesses need to weigh in as part of their in-house HR and CSR programmes; raising parents' awareness to new and alternative career paths such as degree apprenticeships.”

She added: “It is vital to engage with young people’s wider ecosystem: including teachers, guardians and parents via school visits and written communications. Parents can be a tricky group to access so make sure your school visits are interesting and engaging. Kids then share inspiring and exciting success stories with their parents.

“Companies want the best talent pipeline possible, so to help nurture future generations of passionate candidates make sure you engage them from the start,” Perkins added.

O2 has, in conjunction with this research, partnered with the NSPCC to create a guide for parents on supporting their children to embrace technology safely.