Over half of parents (53%) report that they will have the biggest influence on their child’s next steps, yet most aren’t fully aware of the range of options for school leavers beyond university, new research shows.

A YouGov survey of 1,018 parents, commissioned by graduate recruitment company GTI media and professional services firm EY, found that 64 percent of parents felt they needed further information and more resources in order to adequately support their children through their upcoming decisions.

Maggie Stilwell, Managing Partner for Talent at EY, said:

“The survey results suggest that there is a ‘guidance gap’ between what parents expect their role to be and the knowledge they have at their disposal.

“While parents are aware of their influential position over such an important decision, they are looking to be better armed with resources to help ensure they are able to give the best advice possible. In the absence of information and awareness about alternative career routes, such as an apprenticeships or school-leaver schemes, university can often become the default option.”

The research revealed that just one percent of parents said they knew “a lot” about school leaver programmes. Only six percent were aware of vocational further education courses and nine percent knew details about apprenticeships or higher apprenticeship programmes.

Four in five respondents felt that their child did not have a clear idea of what to do beyond school or college. Many young people might feel an expectation to attend university because it is promoted by schools as the “best route to take” according to 37 percent of parents.

Matt Dacey, Director of Products and Services at GTI Media, said:

“The research highlights the extent to which parents and schools still see university as a default route for young people. Employers are having difficulty in promoting alternatives to university, particularly at a time when professions from accountancy and financial services through to engineering are looking to increase their school leaver intake through the creation of exciting new alternatives. The need to engage and support parents with information about these would seem more important than ever.”