It can be a worrying time trying to help a seemingly unmotivated young person find work. Often the most challenging young people to help are those who have no idea what they want to do. They have lots of choices but find it hard to know where to start.

A few facts that may help:

• Young people will change their career several times during their lifetime.

• They will work in various ways into their 70s, but may take “lifestyle breaks”.

• The names of the jobs they will do in five years time have not yet been invented.

• 83% of jobs go via a person’s ‘network’

• Employers value ‘attitude’ and ‘willingness to learn’ above many other qualities.
So, rather than agonise over where to start, just help them become proactive – that is phone up and make a time to talk to someone who may help them – a family friend, someone in the community, or even a career counsellor who has many tools to help identify a youngster’s preferences and career values.

You may be despairing that your youngster wants to leave college too soon, and without a qualification, but here are three examples of young people working things out in their own way:

1. A young 17 yr old woman couldn’t wait to leave school and took only a brief course before working in an office. But by 25 yrs she had completed a degree and had come to understand very well the value of having a higher qualification for more interesting jobs.

2. Two highly qualified professionals despaired when their daughter left school at 16 yrs to work at McDonalds. Two years later when they left to go to England, she preferred not to follow them, but continued her career path with McDonalds. She soon became a high level Manager and after 10 years is now running her own chain of restaurants in Australia, where her parents are now relocated.

3. A highly intelligent 16 yr old left school to work with a family friend as an apprentice carpenter. His long-term goal is to be an architect, so this practical work will be invaluable, and at the same time he gets a much needed break from full-time study.

So there are many roads to success, but your support and active involvement in getting your young person to make connections though voluntary work, hobbies, working for family, friends and the local community is invaluable.

Encourage your youngster to keep a journal where they write down anything that really interests or excites them that has happened in the last week – even a TV programme or movie. After a few weeks, looking back they will see a pattern in the things that interest them, which may lead them to career or study decisions.


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