Supporting Parental Engagement in Career Guidance

Our work to support good career guidance, as schools and colleges embed the Gatsby Benchmarks, has led us to further explore the role of parents*, carers and guardians in the career guidance of their children.

Supporting Parental Engagement in Career Guidance

It is widely recognised that parents are the most influential force in a young person’s career and education decision-making. However, it can be difficult to fully understand the variety of pathways which lead to different occupations, and parents may not have the most up to date information about different education routes and the reality of jobs and industries. The landscape of technical education is also undergoing significant change, as exemplified by the introduction of T-Levels from 2020.  Therefore, as well as ensuring that young people have access to high quality career guidance, we need to give parents the same opportunity to learn more about different pathways and careers.

Career guidance is particularly important for those young people without the social capital to support them to explore the labour market and make informed decisions about courses and occupations, but equally, parents with high social capital may not be aware of the range of options available. We want parents to understand and embrace the important part they can play alongside schools and colleges in supporting their children.

Gatsby is therefore committed to exploring how best to provide information and support to parents, via schools and colleges, to help their children (age 11 -18) make decisions about education options and future careers. We have started this work with a programme of research to understand current practice and the needs of parents, students and schools and colleges, as detailed below.


-  Research in 2019 with the market research company Opinium to investigate parents’ attitudes and experiences around supporting their children’s education and career choices. In summer 2020, this was supplemented by further work exploring how parents’ attitudes have been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. A report of the findings from this research can be found here.

-  A 2019 literature review by the University of Warwick to understand current practice in parental engagement, in the UK and internationally.

A national pilot

Using insights from the research above, we are conducting a two-year programme of resource development and testing, to support schools and colleges to better engage parents in their career guidance programme. This is being delivered with a consortium of partners led Hopscotch Consulting and includes a six-month pilot of resources and communications strategies in schools and colleges across six English regions from 2021.

Sharing innovative practice

With schools and colleges adapting to deliver education remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, many have been reconsidering how they involve parents. In response, Gatsby and the Careers & Enterprise Company have worked together with Careers Leaders to explore ideas and good practice for working with parents in these challenging times. Resources developed following these discussions are available here.

*When using the term parents throughout this page, we are also referring to carers and guardians.

Supporting Parental Engagement in Career Guidance