Helping young people with career choices

As a parent or carer, talk to your child about jobs that interest them. You can help them to research different careers or find out skills and qualifications needed to do certain jobs. You can be a positive influence on your child's choices.

Your child's career plans

Your child will need to make decisions at different times. It's important to ask them about careers from time to time.

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 discuss their options

To help your child with career planning, it's important you:

  • listen, don’t judge
  • are 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, 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 do some research. You can help them find out what is needed to work in a certain career.

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'll need to consider the pros and cons of various options, make a decision based on the information available - then put their plan into action.

How you can help your child's future

To help your child to think about different choices, you can encourage them to:

  • talk about their career ideas and future plans
  • research various careers
  • know about options available 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 by talking to relatives and family friends about the kinds of work they do
  • go to careers events their school organises

Important careers now and in the future 

To make a successful career choice, you and your child should know current and future employment opportunities.

There are job opportunities in many careers in Northern Ireland but there are more openings in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

The areas listed below are very 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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