Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Anna Lichtenberg


Research indicates that parents are an important influence on the career development of their children, but, that they have often been considered as an untapped resource. Rural high school aged students, who reside in metropolitan hostels, often live with their parents for less than 15 weeks per year. How do their parents contribute to their career development? This one year research explored the involvement of parents of hostel children, in the career development process of their youth. Through a case study, an analysis described what it means to be a parent of a hostel adolescent with respects to how they help their youth make career decisions. Based within an ecological framework, parents of hostel adolescents completed a questionnaire. Subsets of this group participated in interviews that focused on narratives and a modification of the critical incident technique as used by Young et al. (1992, 1998), and/or group interviews incorporating a ‘direct to print’ methodology as used by Jeffery et al. (1992).This study supported early findings recognising the important parental role in the career development of todays youth by exploring five areas. The cultural capital of parents of hostel adolescents indicates that they have a real sense of pride in their rural status, actively choosing to live in rural centres. They value honesty and respect, enjoying the freedom ‘country’ life affords them. There are general concerns of safety when their children are living in urban centres and at times an acute awareness of costs. Specific concerns for career development focus on parents perceiving they have a lack of knowledge, skills and expertise essential to adequately assist their childs career development. This situation appears to be compounded by a lack of awareness of resources and/or a reluctance to access them. Parent intentions are to instill in their children independence, responsibility, initiative, perseverance and respect. The most common focal point for career development is the selection of subjects for studies and/or courses to complete. Parents of hostel adolescents favour delivery activities that involve them advising their children and requesting and giving information. They encourage and support their children, showing interest and communicating values. They also see the need to set expectations and limits. This research illustrates that parents of hostel adolescents, although not necessarily attempting to influence particular occupational choice are active agents in influencing their children in a broad range of areas in career development.