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How to decide on a career for teenagers (I)

Thursday 28 April 2016

The summer exam season is fast approaching and whether your foster child is taking GCSEs this year or the prospect is a few short years away, your mind may be turning to their future career goals.

Career planning is such a vast topic that it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to providing guidance and helping your child choose a career path. So, in the first of two posts on the subject, we’re talking on the blog today about how you can help teenagers to consider what their future career will be and begin to help them plan their future.

Open up possibilities

The first step for anyone choosing a career is to try to understand his or her options and ambitions. Your foster child may already have a firm idea of what they’d like to do when they are older, or they could have little to no concept of the type of opportunities open to them.

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It’s possible that teens may be concerned about what support will be available as a looked-after child, so try to speak to them about what’s driving their thoughts. Children could be put off making plans because they’re worried they won’t have the assistance they need to continue in education after the age of 16.

If this is the case, why not arrange a chat with other foster children who have gone on to further education? Start to gather information together about potential financial and pastoral support that may be available to them, and be there to provide reassurance and facts.

Explore strengths and interests

What your foster child does and doesn’t enjoy doing at school and outside of school might be entirely different to how you like to spend your time, so try to remain objective when you’re helping your child choose a career path. The right career choice for them may be an academic pathway involving further study or could involve pursuing an apprenticeship or less traditional career route, so try to keep an open mind.

Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as picking out a particular role such as becoming a hairdresser or dentist, and then planning a pathway to that career. Expand the potential career options your teenager considers by getting them to talk about the subjects they prefer studying and why. You could also talk about their interests outside of school and what they feel might be important to them in a job. Do they want to help people? Are they looking for a stable career or opportunities to travel? The careers support available at schools varies across the UK, so take the time to find out what is provided at your teen’s school and see what may be useful for them to tap into.

If a child has done any work experience, ask what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about it. Could you arrange some additional work experience together to help them firm up their fields of interest further? These types of discussions should naturally provide you both with avenues to explore. You’ll want to make sure that as things progress you both keep an eye on key dates for things like open days and application deadlines.

Want to know more about supporting your foster child with their future ambitions? Contact our friendly advisers; they are always happy to help. And don’t forget to tune in to the next blog post where we’ll be talking about the next steps in helping teenagers to pursue their career of choice.


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