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Parents, how can you help your children get a career?

Can you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? Or perhaps what your first job was and how it’s changed over the last 15-20 years? It’s almost impossible to remember a day in the office not relying on email and websites. Even jobs like transport and manufacturing have already been impacted by the growth in technology – and that trend is going to continue.

So, what does that mean for you? Perhaps not too much, as long as your job doesn’t change too dramatically over the next few years. But what about your kids? If technology continues to change and adapt, then so must the educational pathways we offer young people to create opportunities and improve their working lives today and into the future.

Vocational Education and Training (VET) is a crucial pathway to provide this, and it’s of vital importance that we support school-aged young people and school leavers so that they access clear information about VET and what a VET-based career can offer. As parents, you are in a fantastic position to assist your children to consider this pathway.

“What we know from plenty of research is parents are the single biggest influencer on children’s careers so it’s really important we get accurate information to them,” said Dr Mark Dean, AATIS Data and Research Officer.

“Fundamentally the role of parents is to listen to their children about their career aspirations. It shouldn’t be about putting huge amounts of pressure on children; it should be about listening to what they see themselves doing.”

In this post, we are going to bust some common misconceptions around the VET pathway, and support parents to help their kids get a leg up in their career.

Myth one: Is university the only pathway to a sustainable career?

By understanding the way that technology is impacting the workforce, we can suggest that all workforces will have to adapt. That includes both careers that feed from university and VET. However, what is quite stable is that if you are working with technology, if you are working in a VET role, that role will always be there. Technology won’t replace it; it may change it but that’s why VET is really well equipped to embrace those new technologies and equip apprentices and trainees to undertake those roles now and into the future.

What we’ve found is that people who go into university may come out with a degree, but not necessarily with a lot of life or work experience. What’s often lacking from university career pathways is that idea that you’ve had experience along the way. But with an apprenticeship or traineeship you’re developing your experience as you go. You’re also building those networks within your industry and getting your name out there.

Experience is embedded in the VET pathway. You develop the theoretical knowledge in the classroom, and the work experience in your everyday job.

It’s also worth noting that it’s multi-faceted and for many, the VET pathway may lead to further studies at university. Encouraging your child into a VET pathway means that you really are equipping them with better education skills and knowledge to make those choices when the time comes. They can decide if they want to go on to university or if they want to get a job in the labour market, you’re not just throwing them in the deep end after being in the education systems for 14 years.

Myth two: Apprenticeships and traineeships don’t offer the same financial opportunities as other pathways?

This is less a misconception and more a misleading idea. Sure, some industries pay less and some pay more. It’s all about doing the research into the industry that your child wishes to pursue a career in.

A lot of what people think about trades not being well paid comes from the fact that apprentices start off at a quite low salary, and incrementally increase year-on-year. It’s important to remember that whilst apprentices may be earning less than their friends in university who have a high paying casual job, when they finish their studies, they won’t have a massive HELP or HECS debt to pay off over the course of their career.

“In most cases, you do an apprenticeship or traineeship and you’re paid on the job. And when you come out of it you won’t be in debt, and you will have a wealth of experience,” Mark says.

Myth three: It’s too hard physically.

It’s true that many industries to which a VET pathway prepares workers for do rely on manual labour. However, the more manually intensive work is usually completed by people who are new in their career. It’s crucial to experience manual labour and understand it throughout your training, as when you get to the more senior roles you will retain that knowledge so you know exactly what’s going on and exactly the right way to do things whilst participating in less of the manual labour yourself.

There’s also a huge diversity of VET education pathways that you can do that are not manual labour. For example, if you’re an IT technician, you’re more likely to be sitting in front of a computer all day. So, the idea that VET roles are all physical really tars all roles with the same brush when that is simply not that case. It’s about really seeing the differences within the sector and not just comparing it to university.

So yes, if you pick a trade that has manual labour it will be physical – however the further along you are in your career the less manual labour workers have to undertake.

So how can parents help their children explore VET Pathways?

The key to supporting your child while they explore a VET pathway is research. This can be completed by looking the industry up online, by looking through the AATIS job pathway chart, or by contacting us online or via phone on 1800 1800 338 022. It’s also a good idea to have a chat to someone who works in the industry to get an in-depth understanding of what your child’s immediate and long-term future may look like.

By undertaking research, you can help your child to understand the entire role, and what it will take for them to gain success.

“If your child wanted to be a pilot, a small amount of research will help them understand that there’s an enormous amount of bookwork; for example, a lot of memorisation, communications skills et cetera,” Mark says. “It’s not just flying a plane. Helping your children to understand that is crucial to ensuring their career success and longevity.”

This article was taken from an episode of the MyGain with AATIS Podcast. You can listen to the podcast here.

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