Helping your teen choose a career

Choosing what subjects to do for GSCEs or A Levels may have already got you thinking about the future with your child – whether they continue with their education, do more studying or whether they look for more ‘vocational’ studies.

It may be that they are already saying they want to leave school after exams and get stuck in to a job. This stage can sometimes trigger a tension between a parent and their teenager.

There is a lot of pressure to achieve academically and sometimes the dreams we have for our children do not match what they want. Parents tell us that sometimes they are frustrated by their children’s lack of motivation: their unwillingness to knuckle down.

Parents tell us how anxious they can become when trying to persuade their children that they just want the best possible future for them. But children can achieve good rewarding careers through a number of routes. There are a number of ways to get to that dream job and also satisfy your hopes for their future. These include:
  • Staying on at the school sixth form
  • Finding a six form college
  • Getting a place at a further education college
  • Starting an Apprenticeship
  • Finding a job
  • Doing voluntary work
  • Setting up their own business

Sometimes your child may not choose the route you think is best but is it worth talking to them about all the options. Remember, your child might feel they are being ‘nagged’ so just let them know that you just want the best for them. If you show them you have looked into a few options they may be more willing to listen. You may also want to think about letting them get on with it – perhaps they need to try a few different things before they decide what route to take. Some young people get a job for a while to get a taste of the world of work and then go back to study. Sometimes exploring a few options helps them work out what they really want. Here are some useful websites that will guide you in the many options available:

Further and higher education

  • Further education is choosing to study after 16. This may be A-levels, AS-levels or vocational qualifications like GNVQ, BTEC National Diploma or AVCE or an apprenticeship. Further education often leads to Higher education means going on to do a degree course.

More information


If your child does not really enjoy study at school they may be interested in study at work - learning skills on the job. This is where an apprenticeship may be a better route. It is worth talking to your child about apprenticeships, they involve hard work but offer a range of careers in many industries from Accountancy to Construction, to Media and Recreation and Travel. For more information visit

teens and careers

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