Skip to main content

Parental influence on career choices are deciding factor for young people

Parents top the list of career decision influencers for 18-24 year olds

As students across the UK await their GCSE results and prepare to make important decisions about their career paths, our research revealed parents are the leading influence on their career choices. A fifth (20%) of 18-24 year olds say their parents have the biggest impact on their future job, well above teachers (10%), schools (9%), friends (7%) and social media (3%).

The majority (70%) of parents with children aged 18-24 agree that they are making an impact on which job their child chooses, with roles in engineering (49%), law (43%) and finance (43%) topping the list of career options parents encourage. However, the research reveals parents’ views could be swaying school leavers away from pursuing their passions. Careers in media and marketing (61%), healthcare (60%), performing arts (45%) and hospitality (42%) are high on the desired profession list for young people, placing them at odds with their parents.


Preferred career choices: Parents v 18-24 year olds
Careers parents encourage Careers young people find attractive
1.       Engineering (49%) 1.       Media & Marketing (61%)
2.       Law (43%) 2.       Healthcare (60%)
3.       Finance (43%) 3.       Law (56%)
4.       Healthcare (34%) 4.       Finance (50%)
5.       Media & Marketing (25%) 5.       Engineering (49%)
6.       Construction (25%) 6.       Performance Arts (45%)
7.       Manufacturing (23%) 7.       Hospitality (42%)
8.       Hospitality (15%) 8.       Sales (40%)
9.       Agriculture (14%) 9.       Retail (36%)
10.   Performance Arts (12%) 10.   Manufacturing (31%)


Career misconceptions and parental bias leading to national skills crisis

With a mere 15% of parents wanting their children to have a career in hospitality and a further 14% actively discouraging it, the wider impact parental bias is having on the hospitality industry is alarming and its ability to attract and retain young talent is a further concern.

Neil Pattison, Director at said: “We know that university remains an aspiration of many young people, however the changing labour market means a vocational qualification or specialised experience are just as valuable to employers as a tertiary degree. Whilst our research shows parents are more likely to encourage a future job in finance or law, those getting their GCSE results this week should be keeping their options open when it comes to their career path.

“Parents should be aware of the impact they can have on their child’s decision and ensure they strike the right balance between supporting and intervening. An unconscious bias or misconceptions of an industry can prevent young Brits from pursuing their passions and branching out beyond a traditional career path.

“The skills gap we’re experiencing in hospitality means now is a great time for young people who are proactive, creative and hungry for a long term, successful career to consider joining our industry. With almost half (42%) of young people saying they thought hospitality was an attractive career path, we want others who are unsure about their next steps to consider some of the rewarding options within our industry – all of which offer progression, training and development opportunities.”

CEO at UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, said: “The new findings highlight an opportunity for hospitality businesses to debunk the misconceptions about our industry to ensure both young talent and their parents know about the vast career options it offers. It is important that we highlight the highly paid and highly skilled workers that have paved a successful career for themselves in kitchens, hotels, and even the high street.

“We would encourage all employers to build relationships with nearby schools, colleges and universities to set up work experience or open days, making sure that as these young people are making fully informed career decisions, and their parents are educated about what a career in hospitality can provide for their children.”

Download our free tips and advice

What can employers actively do to change negative misconceptions and get the message across? It can start with small actions and doesn’t have to involve large budgets. Hospitality employers can inspire and engage entry level talent by showcasing the spirit of the sector.

Download our free guide here

Related articles: