Parents & Carers

Help your child explore career ideas and plan their next steps.

How to help your child with careers

One of the best ways you can help your child is simply to talk to them about careers. Talk about how you made the decisions you did in your working life and encourage them to think about what’s important to them. Ask them to explore different ideas and help them to find out about different pathways. To help with this, you could use the Conversation Cards from Talking Futures. These cards have been designed by the Gatsby Foundation to help you open up a conversation with your child about careers.

It also really helps if you have a good understanding of the different options open to your child. Young people face a very different set of choices and challenges from a generation ago, so it’s worth getting to grips with the options available today. Exploring this site is a good place to start! But you could also ask about careers at parents or options evenings at school.

All schools and colleges in Greater Manchester have a careers leader who is in charge of the careers programme. Some schools and colleges will also have impartial careers advisers who offer information, advice, and guidance for students from Year 8 onwards. Look on your child’s school or college website for more details and to see how they can help.

How to help your child explore GMACS

Simply encouraging your child to take the time to explore the GMACS site is a great thing to do.

Looking at the top sectors in GM is a good place to start. Have a look together at the example careers and where future jobs will be and ask them if anything they see appeals to them.

You could also look at the education and training pages. These make a good next step after looking at the different sectors. You could explore what education options would best lead in to each sector.

Visit the opportunities page to see how your child can build the key skills to boost their future applications and kickstart their career. The events page is updated with helpful and interesting careers events happening across Greater Manchester.

You can also explore what’s happening in your area, with our pages separated out into each local authority area in GM.

For more tips and links, see the FAQs below. You could also sign up for the Careermag for Parents. This free publication contains lots of information on all the different pathways your child could choose.

Find helpful careers events in your area

You and your child could attend careers events together, or you could encourage your child to attend suitable events on their own. See some examples of events below or click through to see events local to you.

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See opportunities your child could take part in

Greater Manchester is lucky enough to have a huge range of opportunities your child could take part in, as well as a lot of support they could access. Some of these might be volunteering or work experience, while others offer free advice and help. See what’s available below.

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There’s more to GMACS than you can see…

Alongside the wealth of information that you can see on GMACS, there’s also a careers management tool called Xello that’s designed for young people. GMCA has made this tool available to every state school and college in Greater Manchester to use with their learners. Your child can build their own career profile based on their interests, skills, and talents. They’ll have all the information they need at their fingertips to help them make big decisions.

Your child will need a login to Xello through their school. If they don’t have one, get in touch with the careers leader at their school, or contact us here.

FAQs for parents and carers

How can I help my child make career decisions?

Encourage your child to keep an open mind and to think about their strengths and what motivates them to succeed.

Ask your child what they enjoy in and out of school. Think about different subjects, ways of working and hobbies and interests.

Understand the options available to your child and the process they could take for each route. It’s also worth looking ahead to give you and your child plenty of time to explore and digest the options open to them.

Support your child in attending open events for local colleges, training providers and universities.

Encourage them to consider volunteering and work experience, work placements and work shadowing opportunities.

What should I do if I’m worried about my child’s mental health?

Young Minds charity have loads of online advice that you can access. It’s all about having difficult conversations with your child and helping them to manage anxiety or any other struggle.

They also have a helpline that you can call for free advice: 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday (9:30am-4pm, free for mobiles and landlines).

Where should I go for more help?

Talking Futures is a great place to start for more. It’s a free website with lots of resources and information for parents, provided by the Gatsby Foundation.

How can I help my child with GCSE choices?

Encourage your child to look ahead and think about their future pathways and career interests. Choices made now can affect future options – so thinking into the future is important.

Attend any parent/carer evenings and information events at your child’s school to find out more about what GCSE choices the school offers.

Encourage your child to consider their own subject interests, subject strengths, and the ways they enjoy learning.

Where can I find out about financial support?

GOV.UK lists details of the 16-19 Bursary Fund and Advanced Learner Loans.

Where can I find out more about apprenticeships?

Look at our apprenticeships section for more information.

What are the different ways that my child can stay in education until they are 18?

All young people are required to continue learning or training until they are 18.

There are different options available:

Full time education – this includes studying A level or TBEC qualifications. T levels are a new qualification that has been recently introduced.

Training – this includes apprenticeships and traineeships, and part-employment or volunteering plus part-time study for an accredited qualification.

Who can I speak to for more advice?

You can speak to the careers leader at your child’s school or college.

If there is a careers adviser at your child’s school or college, you can arrange to call them or make an appointment for further information, advice and guidance.

The National Careers Service also has some useful information and advice and you can access their helpline or online webchat.

How can I help my child prepare for work and life?

Encouraging your child to develop transferable skills is a great way to boost their future applications.

Trying new things or following interests and hobbies can also help them discover possible career routes.

See the opportunities section for details of activities and schemes your child could explore outside the classroom.

What is Labour Market Information and how can it help with careers decisions?

Labour Market Information (LMI) is the term used to describe information about jobs and employment. It can be used to help inform careers decisions. LMI includes information such as job roles and descriptions, average salary ranges and whether demand for job types is expected to grow or decline.

Read this guide on careers website that explains how you can use LMI to help shape career decisions.

What should my child learn about careers at school?

All schools and colleges have a careers programme to support your child from Year 7. This will include opportunities to:

  • Access and use Labour Market Information (LMI)
  • Explore how their subjects link to the world of work
  • Meet and interact with a range of businesses, organisations and providers
  • Explore workplaces through a range of workplace visits, work shadowing and work experience placements
  • Access impartial information, advice and guidance about future pathways, study options and careers

All schools and colleges must publish details of their careers education programme on their website. Please visit your child’s school/college website to see what you child will be able to access.

Where can I find more careers information?
What’s the difference between a traineeship and an apprenticeship?

Traineeships give 16–24-year-olds the opportunity to develop the skills they need to either progress into an apprenticeship or find and succeed in employment. They have elements that will prepare your child for an apprenticeship, including English and maths, work preparation skills and a practical work placement with a local employer. Traineeships are unpaid (however travel expenses and costs of meals may be reimbursed) and should be viewed as a stepping stone into work. They can last anywhere between six weeks and six months.

Apprenticeships are designed to enable an individual to progress within a business over a longer period of time, whilst gaining nationally recognised qualifications. An apprenticeship is a career, not just a job. Apprenticeships are for those aged 16 or over who are not in full time education and can last anywhere from one to five years.

How much will an apprenticeship cost my child?

An apprenticeship won’t cost your child a thing! Apprenticeships are fully funded between the government and your child’s employer, so the only expenses will be getting to and from work or training. With full employment benefits, apprentices earn a salary while they learn.

What can my child earn as an apprentice?

As of April 2022, the National Minimum Wage for apprentices is £4.81 an hour, but many employers pay more than this. In fact, some higher apprenticeships can pay as much as £500 per week. And, in addition to earning a salary, your child will receive training in the skills employers want, increasing their future earning potential. Apprentices receive marked salary increases on completion of their training and the roles often offer great opportunities for progression.

Isn’t university better than an apprenticeship?

While we know that full-time education, such as college, sixth form or university is a proven route into employment, it doesn’t always offer the valuable work experience that an apprenticeship can offer. And, there’s still no guarantee of a job at the end.

Apprenticeships allow you to earn while you learn. They give you the opportunity to develop the skills employers really want. This includes specific skills relating to your job, their company and your sector.

What do the different apprenticeship levels mean compared to GSCEs, A levels and degrees?

Apprenticeship name

Apprenticeship level




5 GSCEs grade C or above



2 A level passes



Higher National Certificate (HNC)



Higher National Diploma/Foundation Degree



Undergraduate Degree



Master’s Degree




How will an apprenticeship affect child benefits?

For parents to continue to receive benefits (e.g. Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit) after their son or daughter has turned 16, the young person needs to stay in full-time education (at a school sixth form, college or on another approved training course). At the present, you cannot claim Child Benefit for a son/daughter who starts an apprenticeship, although they will be earning their own wage and any Tax Credits you receive will be affected by the loss of Child Benefit. For more information on how apprenticeships may impact your government benefits, visit the GOV.UK website.

Is an apprenticeship a permanent job?

There is no guarantee of a job at the end of an apprenticeship, but it is a highly effective means of entering a profession. Bear in mind that training an apprentice involved a lot of work for the company in question. They are unlikely to carry out this work unless they are keen to take someone on at the end of it. Similarly, you should remember that apprenticeships provide employers with the opportunity to build a workforce with the specific skills that they require.

Is an apprenticeship contract an employment contract?

Yes. Apprentices are employees just like any other, and they are entitled to be paid. They are also entitled to the other rights that employees enjoy. You should remember, though, that apprentices may be paid at a different rate to conventional employees.