Help your child make the right career choices

As a parent or carer there is plenty you can do to support your child and help them to make successful career choices. It is important to be aware of your influence and to make that influence as positive as possible.

Your child and their career plans

Your child will have decisions to make at different stages, so it's worth raising the subject of careers from time to time over a period of years.

Get them to chat about the jobs they see other people doing. This could be someone they know or admire. It could be people they pass on the street, see on television or in magazines. You could also discuss types of jobs that might be relevant to their interests, skills or aspirations.

Listen to your child and help explore their options

The most valuable things parents can do to help their child with career planning are

  • listen, don’t judge
  • be open to ideas and encourage them to explore all their options
  • keep in mind that your child’s choices and decisions should be based on their aspirations and abilities and not on what you think they should do
  • remember that not everyone has a clear idea what they want to do so your child's career ideas may change as they get older

Helping your child plan a career

Once your child has some ideas about what they would like to do, encourage them to look into what they need to do to get there.

As well as helping them decide on their next steps, you will also be helping them to develop the decision-making skills important in adult life. They will need to weigh up the pros and cons of various options, make a decision based on the information available - then put their plan into action.

Encourage your child to:

  • talk about their careers ideas and future plans
  • research a wide range of career
  • be aware of all the options available, including those in education, employment and training
  • discuss ideas and options with teachers or careers advisers at school or college
  • find out about training, college, and university entrance requirements as well as what is needed for jobs they are interested in
  • develop their skills by taking part in clubs and activities, both within and outside of school - this will help them when they are applying for courses or jobs
  • find out about the world of work through work experience and extra-curricular activities related to it or by talking to relatives and family friends about the kinds of work they do
  • go to any careers events their school organises

Look at future career options with your child

To make a successful career choice, it is crucial that you and your child are aware of current and future employment opportunities.

There are job opportunities across all occupations in Northern Ireland but there are more opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

The following areas are extremely important to the Northern Ireland economy:

  • business and financial services (including accountancy, corporate recovery, financial analysts)
  • ICT (particularly software development skills, database development, systems architecture and internet specialist skills)
  • agri food sector (including lab technicians, food scientists, biotech, machine operatives)
  • advanced manufacturing and engineering (CAD skills, CNC machine operatives, mechanical and electrical engineering skills including at technician level, strategic marketing)
  • renewable energies and recycling
  • health and life sciences (biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life applications technologies, nutriceuticals and biomedical devices)
  • creative and digital media
  • hotels and catering (to boost tourism)
  • retail

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