Parents, Children and Careers- The Big Question [Part II Of The PACE Series]

As per a report, by 2022, 9 percent of India’s workforce is expected to be employed in job roles that don’t exist today while 37 percent is believed to be in new job roles. And 70% of parents of young adults are clueless about this. 

How do we know this?

We looked through our annual Parents, Aspirations, Concerns and Expectations (PACE) form in detail and gained a deeper understanding of what ‘Career’ based concerns parents had (the other categories were- Academic, Non-Academic, College). 

In this Part II of the PACE series, we are looking in greater detail at some major ‘Career-related aspects’. Here’s what they are: 

1. Career misalignment between parents and children 

Arguably, the biggest question on Indian parents’ minds is about what career their child will excel at. And most, if not all, have their own set of aspirations for their children. Surprisingly, this trend is not restricted to India alone. Research by a leading hospitality job board in the UK found that most parents of adolescents had a separate set of careers picked out for their young ones whilst the kids wanted something else. 

Fig 1: Career Alignment Source: Univariety PACE 2019-2020

It comes as no surprise that, even to this day, there is a certain element of misalignment between parents and their children with respect to the choice of career. Through the Univariety PACE form, we discovered that 70% of parents and children were not aligned with each other in matters of career preferences.

Are Indian Parents ready for a change?  

Traditionally, parents have been involved in most of the significant decisions in a child’s life- including that of career. The typical mindset of the Indian parent is to enable his/her child to do well academically more than any other way. The ultimate goal is to find a decent job that pays reasonably well. There is hardly ever a discussion that takes into consideration the child’s actual interest areas. And that brings us to the next section where we discuss the biggest areas that require a dialogue between parents and children.

2. What are the major career-related sub concerns?

To make things easier, we categorized the various important aspects related to CAREER into 5 sub concerns. We’ve listed them below for you. Each sub concern is followed by a brief explanation.

It is the right fit for my child (based on their interest)

Does the parent believe that the career choice made is indeed the right fit for his/her child based on their interest?

Salary & Career prospects

How much do parents know about the various career opportunities available and the kind of income/salaries that can be drawn?

Course options for college

In the chosen career, are parents aware of the various courses that their children can take up? 

Preparation to get into a college

How much do parents know about the kind of preparation needed to get into the right college?

Entry-level job requirements

Do parents know what basic requirements are expected for jobs in the ideal career?

Day-to-day job activities

What do these jobs in ideal careers entail? Are parents aware? 

The highest-paying jobs didn’t exist until 10 years ago!
– Sangeetha George, AVP Guidance Solutions- Univariety

What we understood was that a large number of Parents struggle to keep up with the ever-changing ‘job market’ and what’s hot and what’s not. This explains why only 9% of them are confident about ‘Entry-level job requirements’ or ‘day-to-day job activities’. In fact, a whopping 70% of parents had very little idea of the Salary & Career Prospects of a certain field. However, the real question is do parents know that they need help with this area? 

3. What do parents think they need help with? 

“Salary prospects and job security.”
– Deepa Sharma, Parent Of Class 10 student 

“The biggest challenge for my child’s career is to choose the right future.”
– NJS Negi, Parent of Class 9 student

The pie-chart below shows a breakdown of the various career-related sub- concerns that parents feel they need help with.
Fig 3: Career-related aspects
Source: Univariety PACE 2019-2020

The Career Planning Bubble

While choosing a career for their child, parents were worried about what jobs their children would end up in and what these would entail. With the advent of AI and rapidly changing circumstances, newer and more relevant skills are needed as old jobs are being replaced. It is understandable that parents are concerned about the practical aspects related to career, however, the interests and aptitudes of the child need to be at the forefront while arriving at career-related decisions. Why do we say this? 

If you look at the pie-chart, you will notice that parents need immediate guidance on Salary and Career Prospects versus the Chosen Career Being The Right Fit For Their Child. At least, that’s what the parents believe. But looking back at Fig 1: Career Alignment, it is quite evident that 70% of parents are not aligned when it comes to their chosen field being right for their child. Where is the solution?

4. The Solution 

Here are three simple steps that should serve as a prerequisite for any career-related decision between parents and their children.

  • Start planning early (grade 8 is an excellent time to start) to get more info about career options. Here’s a wonderful video by Ms. Sangeetha George, the Head of Guidance Solutions at Univariety on Starting Career Conversations With Your Child
  • Parents and Children should research independently and then come together to discuss their findings. Here are some Research Tools that can be very helpful. 
  • Align the Parents’ practical considerations of future prospects of a career with the child’s Aptitude, Interest, and Personality. Psychometric Tests are no longer an option but a necessity for this purpose. 

As educators, we must serve as facilitators to make conversations between the parent and the child open and smooth. 

If you’re a school, you could do this 

  1. Arrange for a conversation to happen between parents and their children. In times like these, make use of technology to connect thousands of parents with children who are in the same age groups as their own and get them talking specifically about Career and Misalignment. Watch what happens!
  2. Request your alumni to join in. Parents and children tend to believe people who are already walking the talk. Plus, alumni serve as excellent mentors to many students. Webinars, Zoom calls- a lot can be done!
  3. Alternatively, you can also talk to us if you are looking at a more scientific approach (capturing parent concerns, spending dedicated time with a counsellor, discussing options and arriving at a conclusion) to bringing parents and their children in alignment with respect to career

If you’re a university, here’s what you can do 

  1. While engaging in conversation with parents and students, shed more light on the practical aspects of certain careers and courses.
  2. Parents want to know how their child is going to fare in a certain profession or job and while choosing a college, they don’t seem to get enough of that information. So, try bridging that gap at the pre-admission stage itself.
Let’s encourage conversations and not single-handed decisions

Today, the possibilities are endless. It’s time we understood this and focused on identifying our children’s true interests or strengths and helped them build skills that they can use in any career. 

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