Vocational choice during adolescence

As individuals reach the peak or late period of ado- lescence they have to make a vocational choice. In less-well-off families, the young person may leave school as early as possible to start a job that does not require any formal qualifications. The adolescent may thus have what seems to him an enormous income, compared to the meagre pocket money previously received from his parents and which some of his contemporaries still receive. So there is a great incentive to take unskilled work without thinking about the long-term prospects. Teenagers may not appreciate that they could end up doing an unskilled job for life that will provide a low standard of living for an adult, particularly one with a family to support. However, the adolescent may not have the patience to wait; it is characteristic of this age-group to want everything ‘now’, sacrificing the future for the present. Parental interference in career choice may involve recommending further education and the acquisition of qualifications. This is frequently seen by adolescents as a device to stop them enjoying themselves, to take away their independence, and to keep them in a child role.

Just the same, the attitude and occupation of the parents are important in influencing the vocational choice of an adolescent. If the parents are unskilled workers, who think of their job simply as a way of making a living, they may be satisfied if their children follow in their footsteps. Income is the main consideration rather than long-term job satisfaction. Such parents do not arouse any ambition in the adolescent. There are also those parents who regret wasted opportunities in their youth and have ambitions not for themselves but for their children, and actively encourage them. If they can persuade the rebellious adolescent that they are right, they are usually thanked at a later stage for their intervention. Parental backing may encourage an adolescent to reject the tendency in his or her peer group to leave school early and start work. However, statistics show that the large majority of children do not significantly surpass or fall below the financial or career achievements of their parents.