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Kick Starting Kids' Careers: For How Long Should Parents Be A Financial Lifeline?

01/12/2016 12:50

The Bank of Mum and Dad has never been busier. Housing charity Shelter suggests that as well as helping children to fund their lifestyles, parents are increasingly supporting their offspring with bigger ticket purchases such as house deposits. But what about helping their kids onto the career ladder? How much are mums and dads spending to equip their children to enter the world of work?

New figures from our think tank, the Centre for the Modern Family (CMF), show parents in the UK spend on average £17,400, to help kick start their children's careers. A huge sum by any measure - and the equivalent of an estimated £7,900 per child - and certainly indicative of how far parents feel they have to go to help their offspring crack the UK job market.

Youth unemployment today stands at 591,000 so it is hardly surprising that 40% of parents with kids aged 16 and over are concerned their children will struggle to secure a job. Many are pulling out all the stops to help avoid this; our research shows almost half (48%) of parents have even bought smart clothing for their children to wear to interviews, and 23% have paid for additional training courses.

Whilst more than a third (36%) of parents assume responsibility for supporting their children in their quest for a job because they believe it is their responsibility, our research suggests that many - worried about their children's futures and perhaps about their own ability to provide enough financial and practical support - are also looking to others to help share the load. A quarter of those parents we spoke to think the Government has a responsibility to offer financial support and a further 30% believe schools have a role to play in providing practical support to get young people ready for their future in the workplace.

But perhaps we can apply some thinking and support to help ease the burden on parents, or at least help them ensure their hard earned cash is being used to the best effect. Our research tells us 14% of parents admit to helping their children due to concerns they wouldn't otherwise be able to find a job and 23% say they are worried their children will gain qualifications which won't be valuable in the workplace. This suggests that perhaps more career support and financial guidance is needed for both students and parents, and earlier in the process.

Recent findings from research into apprenticeships by PWC also suggests the UK could learn from high performing countries such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland where governments encourage vocational training alongside formal education to bridge the gap between education and employment. Not only do these countries concentrate on social inclusion to combat barriers to employment, they also support young people's transition to the workplace - this is something that could benefit those trying to get started in their careers, as well as helping employers to find good, young talent to nurture.

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