As teenagers around the country await their A-Level and GCSE results, research by City & Guilds reveals that the vast majority of parents do not want their children to pursue a similar educational path to the one they went down. In fact, the survey of 750 parents – many of whom left school at 16 – shows that 72% don’t want their children to do what they did after leaving school.

The new research, published today, also shows that nearly half of parents (49%) own up to the fact that they do not fully understand what educational alternatives are available outside of GCSE, A-Level and university. This confusion means a third (34%) feel ill-equipped to advise their children on what to do when they leave school.

Commenting on the report Kirstie Donnelly, UK Managing Director of City & Guilds said: “The educational landscape has changed enormously since these parents were sitting their exams. It is worrying, but understandable given the pace of change, that so many parents are not fully aware of all the options available at each stage of education. Clearly, parents want their children to pursue the right path for them. My fear is that they are not clued up on what this could be; meaning young people are not encouraged to consider the many different pathways that lead to success.”

In 1990, when many of the parents surveyed were making their educational choices, the number of students obtaining university degrees was 77,163. In 2011, that figure had risen four and a half times to 350,800.

Yet university remains just one of many routes into a career – in fact, 55% of employers agree that young people who have taken a vocational route are better equipped for the workplace than those with an academic qualification.And almost half (44.1%) of last year’s university graduates were predicted to be unemployed or underemployed six months after leaving full time education – compared with just 4.5% of those with at least a Level 4 apprenticeship.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • University is considered the best option for an 18 year old, with 49% of parents backing this option.
  • However, higher level/advanced apprenticeships come second, with nearly a quarter (24%) of parents saying these are the best options.
  • Teachers are judged to have the most responsibility for advising young people on their options after school (47%). Parents come next with a third (33%) saying they have the greatest responsibility for giving educational advice to their children.

The parents surveyed came from a range of educational backgrounds. The highest proportion (31%) left school at 16, 17% had a bachelor’s degree and 12% left school after A-levels.