Parents’ differing experiences of career guidance during Covid-19

20 August 2020 Rob Cremona

The significant disruption to education caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly with the majority of young people learning from home, has changed how parents* feel about their children’s education and career options and how they engage with these decisions, according to new research commissioned by Gatsby.

Parents’ differing experiences of career guidance during Covid-19

In June 2020, we commissioned Opinium to survey 2,000 parents of 11-18-year olds to understand how their attitudes and confidence about how schools and colleges involve them in career guidance may have changed during lockdown. This is part of Gatsby’s programme of research and resource development to help parents have well-informed conversations with their children about education and career options, and builds on surveys carried out in late 2019, allowing us to see how things have changed since the outbreak of Covid-19.

Parents almost universally believe it is still important for them to be informed about their children’s education and career choices, but their experiences during lockdown have varied substantially. For example, while 20% now feel more positive about their children’s future, and 48% have received information about career guidance from their child’s school or college since lockdown, 32% reported feeling more anxious about their child’s future and 47% reported they have not received career guidance information since lockdown. These statistics underline the differing experiences of families and suggests a strong need for schools and colleges to both capitalise on some parents’ optimism, but also step in and support those in greatest need. This could be particularly important for those families hit hardest by the economic downturn, as parents’ personal experience and confidence in the labour market may be disrupted and thus impact on how they can guide their children’s decision-making.

Gatsby is using these results, alongside further research with parents in the autumn, to inform our ongoing programme to support schools and colleges with parental engagement in career guidance. This work seeks to help parents understand the choices their children face and support them through constructive conversations. The project will be piloted in over 20 secondary schools and colleges during the 2020/21 academic year.

Read a report of the main research findings here.

If you would like to find out more about this research, our larger parental engagement project and pilot, or Gatsby’s general work in careers, please contact

*When using the term parents, we are also referring to carers and guardians

Parents’ differing experiences of career guidance during Covid-19