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An article in the Metro a few weeks ago stated that becoming a YouTube sensation was the number one career choice for teenagers. With the endless options available to them, deciding on which career path can be a challenge for young people and many parents aren't sure how much or how little they should help, when it comes to this. Employment and career expert Frank Hutton gives you 4 tips.
What did you want to be when you were a child? I can remember wanting to go into business at quite an early age. At 10 years old I was selling newts, toads and goldfish out of the next door’s pond to my school mates, and before you ask - yes, I did have permission! So how young is too young? Should we be pushing our children to decide early on which direction they should be moving in for their future career, so they can get a real advantage?
Research on the subject is thin on the ground (not a surprise), being able to monitor the results of this over time would be hugely expensive and require great commitment. The UK Government’s National Careers Service looks at supporting children at 13 and above - most likely because they need to be making decisions about GCSEs which then may dictate other choices further down the line. Schools themselves often provide excellent support and exposure to all kinds of industry and work opportunities; whilst others may not.
However, even if we took every school day of every week for every year of their school life to focus on career choices, I don’t think we’d cover all the possibilities in enough depth to enable them to make an informed decision.
So what can we do to support our children?
1. Provide a safe and secure environment at home
I don’t mean preventing them from being exposed to the outside world, quite the contrary. In fact, encourage them to go out and explore, all the while supporting them positively (without expecting a result) and especially when they fail, lose interest or just feel fed up. Too many of our young people are fearful of the consequences of failure. Letting them know they will be loved at home in the future, whatever happens, will give them the courage to try new things, explore possibilities and more likely help them to reach their true potential.
2. Help them understand themselves
We are all different. Not everyone is cut out to be a doctor. Just because you don’t like the idea of being a salesperson, doesn't mean that your child wouldn’t really enjoy it. Research shows that while much of a child’s personality is influenced and formed early on, there is evidence that it keeps on evolving until our mid-twenties. So keep it simple but do begin to train early on (as young as 7 or 8 is quite possible for this) to help them to think these things through so they can continue to apply this skill as they face the challenges ahead. What do they enjoy? What excites them? How do they feel when they make something? Do they like being competitive? Do they like solving puzzles? You can pursue activities with them so they can experience things i.e. cooking, making, sport, creativity etc. It could be fun for you, too! So many adults I work with are not very self-aware and feel quite unable to make important decisions about themselves. Help your children develop the skills required early on but without freeze drying them into a misconstrued personality perception.
3. Make yourself aware of the incredible range of opportunities out there
Apprenticeships are amazing ways for young people (and older people in fact!) to enter work while continuing to study in a vocational way. There is an incredible variety of different courses and options to follow. And of course, getting a degree is a real possibility for many now with foundation degrees being offered and vocational courses leading to higher qualifications. Education is now something we can pursue throughout our lives and re-training at a later date is a real possibility. keeping in touch with what’s out there has never been easier via the web and via industry events. You could be your child’s source of inspiration! nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk is a great resource or just get searching online.
4. Pray expectantly and thankfully
Our God is for us, not against us. In all this, He will help. He made us all differently so don't be surprised if your ambition for them isn’t what He intended. But in holding them up in prayer, confidently expect that in all things he will work for the good of those who love Him. And give thanks every day that His love for them, like yours, endures forever.
Frank Hutton has had a career in and around the worlds of marketing, communications and employment for the last 37 years. He has run two companies (one of which was his own) and now works from North Devon helping individuals and organisations all over the world. Frank has been a Christian since his teenage years and brings a practical but spiritual perspective to all his work. He now operates under the banner of www.huttonand.co to assist individuals discover the working life they want and how to get there.