2 minutes

5 tips to help parents support students towards employability

How can teachers help parents with their children’s journey to the workplace? Janet Colledge, chief careers education consultant with Outstanding Careers, offers some invaluable advice.

‘A job for life’ is an outdated concept. Young people starting out on the path to employment will need to respond to a constantly changing environment, be adaptable and resilient, ready to work in a team, but also motivated to pursue freelance opportunities.

Because the world of work is so different, many parents struggle to know how to support their teenagers. Leaving many teachers pondering this question… 

How can I help parents to support their children in navigating their journey to the workplace?

As an independent careers adviser, I work across a number of schools in East London, where we always strive to involve parents in helping students make important decisions. Here are some top tips to help improve parent engagement. 

  1. Make sure parents have easy access to the following, preferably via the school website and/or in their pupil school planners.
  • The school careers policy and framework (scheme of work or calendar of activities) for careers learning that you provide.
  • Details of who to contact for careers-related questions and support.
  • Any formal guidance that you provide such as 1-2-1 interviews or small group work – along with details on how to access and arrange this support.
  1. Do you have a Quality in Careers Standard award? The DfE recommends that all schools should work towards a QiCS award, there are a number of different ones all overseen by Careers England. They demonstrate that your school takes careers learning seriously and has a comprehensive programme in place. Display the award in a high footfall area of the school.
  1. Include an update on careers provision in the school newsletter and encourage parents to follow the school careers Twitter feed, if you have one set up.
  1. Ask working parents to come in and share insights into their work with students. Do any parents work in ‘less obvious’ roles which might inspire students.
  1. Support conversations that parents might have with pupils – here are some ideas for conversation starters to share with parents.
  • Talk to your child about what they think working life will be like for them. Asking them about an imagined working day reveals more about their interests and thought processes than asking ‘what you want to be?’ Do they want to work outdoors? With people? With computers? This kind of conversation delves into what they imagine jobs will be like and paves the way to joint investigation into career paths.
  • Encourage support of non-stereotypical career choices.Have they limited their options by only considering stereotypical roles? Challenge this.
  • Discuss the various options apart from work and university. Ensure parents are aware of the different routes available.
    • Apprenticeships, which can now lead to degrees in some areas.
    • School leaver programmes where companies support young people through professional training.
    • Traineeships for those who are not ready at 18 for university or either of the above options.
  • Encourage parents to understand local labour market information. Are there likely to be jobs in the local area that students are interested in? What will the competition be like?

LifeSkills now has a new parent site which provides tips and advice including how to help students find and get the most out of work experience, ensure their digital footprint portrays them in a positive light, you can also view a video diary from a parent. Why not signpost parents to this site from your careers portal?


A free account gives you access to all educator content, tools and resources

Over 85,000 educators use LifeSkills’ free and immediately accessible resources to guide young people. Join them in less than 5 minutes.

Already have an account?

Log in


Get started

Thank you for liking

Help us to continue creating relevant content for you by leaving some additional feedback.

More from the Blogs

A school social action programme that works for all
Are your students learning the right skills?
Virtual Work Experience: An educator’s experience