I regularly get contacted by parents of graduates, a year or so on from graduation they want to help their son or daughter, who has no idea what to do or how to get a job. I often think life would have been much simpler if we encouraged our sons and daughters to think about their future right now!

Far too many young people wait till they’ve gained their degree or later. Too late they find out it was the wrong degree, the wrong time for them to go to university, they didn’t make the best use of their time, and they have done nothing to enhance their CV.

Is university the answer?

As costs increase, young people, and their parents need to become active in making a choice. Taking a degree should not be a passive choice, the automatic next step after A levels, but something chosen to help achieve career and personal goals.
If a young person is passionate on a subject and wants to expand their knowledge then a degree is likely to meet personal goals and expectations. But it won’t necessarily get them a place on a graduate training scheme, or a job. Much more is needed to increase employability such as developing work relevant skills and building a CV.
Potential students should think hard and ask questions before deciding on a university career

  • What will I get from going to university?
  • What transferable skills will be gained?
  • What knowledge will be learned?
  • How will I grow and develop as a person?
  • How will this degree and university increase my chance of getting a job?

Should I get a job instead?

It’s not easy to get a job at the moment, but the younger someone is the cheaper they are to employ and grants can be available to organisations which can contribute to your salary. Encourage your child to consider applying to e.g. Wetherspoon’s or McDonalds; both have proven track records of promoting from within.
Getting a job will provide useful transferable skills such as

  • Being part of a team
  • Showing up on time
  • Completing a task even when they don’t want to do it
  • Working with customers
  • Communication skills

These can be useful in any job. A year of work experience after A levels can help a young person have much greater clarity on career and university choice. Don’t forget a degree can also be studied part time alongside a job, that’s what I did!

How to decide what to do?

Whether your child is deciding what to study or what to do to earn an income, they need to think about what they enjoy doing, what sorts of jobs will be available and really understanding who they are.
Useful questions to ask your child
What do you enjoy?

  • Do you like creative interests, are you considered to be non conforming, do you like self expression?
  • Are you more interested in working with people? Are you seen as caring and helpful, do you like collaborative working environments?
  • Are you careful and conscientious, do you like paying attention to detail do you like to collect and manage information?
  • Are you analytical, interested in science, interested in research and independent thinking?
  • Do you like to be physically active, are you seen as practical, would you like to operate equipment?
  • Or is it business that interests you, would you like to sell products or ideas, are you seen as assertive and confident?

Then think about personality?
Are you outgoing and sociable or more reserved with a preference for a backroom role. Do you want to be seen as an expert or do you prefer variety. To what extent do you want to focus on detail or ideas?
Your child may be able to work out the answers alone, or may need the help of an experienced careers coach. Taking an in-depth ability assessment such as the Highlands Ability Battery to understand what comes easy a career can be built around these strengths.

Looking to the future

The world of work has changed; no longer can you climb a career ladder with one company. Jobs are changing so fast that how you earn your living in 10 years may be in a job that doesn’t even exist now.
Even if the job does exist, people have to keep themselves up to date. The experienced marketing manager who knows nothing on social media is likely to find him/herself unemployable. The punch card operator from 30 years ago had to retrain. Think more about strengths, the skills and abilities you have and passions and interests, all will help to keep you marketable.

Final words

Would a career coach help? Think about how much it costs to raise a child? How much will it potentially cost to go to university? A career coach experienced at working with young people will ensure that any choices are well thought through and increase your son/daughters confidence level.
Please get in touch to discuss how I can be of help

Published On: September 10th, 2015 / Categories: Students and Graduates /

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