ERIC Identifier: ED272702
Publication Date: 1986-00-00
Author: Naylor, Michele
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Family Influences on Employment and Education. Overview. ERIC
Digest No. 56.
The influence of family on occupational and educational attainment has
been a subject of great interest to vocational and career educators and
researchers alike. As is evident from a literature review done by Otto and Call
(1985), researchers in such diverse fields as child development, sociology,
demography, and career development have long recognized that families play a
major role in shaping their children's educational and career decisions. Only
when career educators understand the nature and extent of the family's influence
on employment and education can they develop effective strategies for helping
parents help their children make appropriate and satisfying career and
educational choices. This digest summarizes information about the family's
influence on employment and education and describes intervention strategies for
practitioners and parents to use in assisting youth in reaching their full
educational and employment potential.
HOW DOES THE FAMILY INFLUENCE OCCUPATIONAL/EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT AND CHOICE?
Splete and Freeman-George (1985) list the following significant family
influence factors that affect a child's career and educational decisions: (1)
geographic location, (2) genetic inheritance, (3) family background, (4)
socioeconomic status, (5) family composition, (6) parenting style, and (7)
parent work-related attitudes. Whereas the first four of these factors have a
strong influence on a child's physical and mental abilities, education and
employment opportunities, and financial resources, the last three have a
profound effect on a child's personality type, preference for certain types of
interpersonal relationships, work attitudes, and willingness to pursue a
It is also important to remember that the career development process begins
long before the adult years. McDaniel and Hummel (1984) discuss the career
development process in terms of three phases: awareness (before age 11),
exploration (ages 11 to 17), and preparation (age 17 to young adulthood). In her
study of the family-career connection, Miller (1984) discusses career
development in terms of a process beginning in the preschool years and reviews
the effects of parents as role models in the career decisions of sons and
WHY ARE FAMILY-ORIENTED CAREER DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS NEEDED?
The aforementioned discussion of the documented influence of parents on their
children's career and educational choices and the importance of parental role
models are obvious answers to this question. In a 1980 speech, Becky L.
Schergens, then executive director of the National Congress of Parents and
Teachers, discussed yet another reason for family-oriented career development
programs. Recognizing that parents play a central role in their children's
career development and that parents indirectly help their children by helping
themselves, Schergens asserts that "parents must work with their children not
only in the discussion of a selection of a career but also in terms of
sharpening their own employability skills" (p. 4). She places particular
emphasis on the need for parents to teach and reinforce the need for
adaptability and flexibility in this world of rapid change.
WHAT SPECIFIC KINDS OF PROGRAMS ARE NEEDED?
Schergens suggests that a parent's effectiveness as a resource person on
which a child can draw in the career development process is directly dependent
upon the parent's own career development and knowledge of the world of work.
Therefore, a variety of different programs, each focusing on audience-specific
needs, is required. Otto (1983) discusses the occupational outlook for the
different regions of the United States and the various offerings available at
postsecondary institutions. Gormley (1983) describes an audiovisual/print
prevocational education program designed to meet the special needs of bilingual
junior high students and their parents. The program features home learning
activities focusing on developing prevocational skills, making free time pay
off, making the most of oneself, and developing appropriate work attitudes and
behavior. Another program intended to train parents to train their special needs
children in making the transition from school to career is that outlined in the
package entitled CORRIDORS TO CAREERS: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS AND DISABLED YOUTH
(Izzo, Kopp, and Liming, 1986). This training program for parents of disabled
--parent guides covering career exploration and planning for transition
through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) (assessing interests and
abilities, learning what appropriate jobs are available, understanding training
options, and identifying modifications needed at the work site)
--job search and survival skills (obtaining job leads, writing application
letters and resumes, interviewing, and developing good work habits)
ndependent living skills (identifying transportation and housing needs and
options, developing home management and decision-making skills, and building
The package also includes a trainer's manual explaining ways in which parent
training teams can teach other parents to play a supportive role in the
school-to-work transition of their own disabled adolescents.
HOW CAN PRACTITIONERS MEET THE NEED FOR FAMILY-ORIENTED CAREER DEVELOPMENT?
One way of responding to the need for family-oriented career education is to
follow Schergens' (1980) suggestion and help parents become better "career
counselors" by helping them develop their own employability skills. Another
important role of parent education is to address the unique needs of parents of
different groups of special needs children. Splete and Freeman-George (1985)
outline a comprehensive plan for counselor interventions that revolves around
helping young adults recognize the influences of family and increase their
personal autonomy through a three-step exploration of self,
educational/occupational information, and relationships with family and
significant others. Representative interventions in the model include making a
family systems review, developing paradigms of family interaction, and making an
occupational family tree.
WHAT STEPS CAN PARENTS TAKE ON THEIR OWN?
Schergens (1980) sees a dual role for parents in the career development
process: as guides or resource persons for their own children and as advocates
for increased opportunities in the area of career education for all children,
with emphasis on the impact that parents can have at the community, state, and
local levels. Stressing the importance of the parent as a provider of
information and experiences conducive to the formation of proper school and work
attitudes, McDaniels and Hummel (1984) list 13 steps that parents can take to
assist in their children's career development. These include encouraging the
development of such basic work attitudes as promptness, respect, and
responsibility; stressing that the work children do in school is good,
important, and related to the larger world of work; helping children understand
that no one individual can be completely competent in all things; providing a
climate conducive to study; serving as the connecting link between home and
school; and encouraging participation in diverse experiences outside of school,
including leisure activities and part-time jobs.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Gormley, E. "Breaking the Language Barrier: Parents as Teachers." MOMENTUM
14(1) (February 1983): 32-34.
Izzo, M. I.; K. Kopp, and R. Liming. CORRIDORS TO CAREERS. Omro, WI: Conover
McDaniels, C. and D. Hummel. "Parents and Career Education." JOURNAL OF
CAREER EDUCATION 10(4) (June 1984): 225-233.
Miller, J. V. THE FAMILY-CAREER CONNECTION: A NEW FRAMEWORK FOR CAREER
DEVELOPMENT. Information Series no. 288. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult,
Career, and Vocational Education, The National Center for Research in Vocational
Education, The Ohio State University, 1984. ED 246 307.
Otto, L. B. YOUTH & CAREERS: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS. Boys Town, NE: Boys
Town Center, 1983.
Otto, L. B. and V. R. A. Call. "Parental Influence on Young People's Career
Development." JOURNAL OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT 12(1) (September 1985): 65-69.
Schergens, B. L. THE PARENT'S ROLE IN CAREER DEVELOPMENT: IMPLICATIONS FOR
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. Occasional Paper no. 60.
Columbus: The National Center for Research in Vocational Education, The Ohio
State University, 1980. ED 186 707.
Splete, H. and A. Freeman-George. "Family Influences on the Career
Development of Young Adults." JOURNAL OF CAREER DEVELOPMENT 12(1) (September