Careers information comes in many different forms

People generally use a range of different information sources when making career decisions.

4 types of knowledge that young people need to make informed career decisions

The following table sets out the 4 types of knowledge that young people need to make informed career decisions.[1] Although focused on young people, these knowledge requirements apply to people at all stages of their career journey.

Careers information comes from a range of different sources

People generally access information about careers from other people, experiences, and static resources. People will often use a variety of these resources before making career decisions.  


This includes:

  • parents and other family members
  • friends
  • career advisors (often in school for students, or professional careers advisors)
  • career support services (such as MSD job brokers, or Workbridge)
  • teachers (for students)
  • mentoring.

Family and peers

Māori and Pacific students are more likely to seek information and become aware of career opportunities through personal connections, with 30% of Māori and 39% of Pacific school leavers knowing family/whānau members who did their desired jobs. This is compared to 21% of non-Māori and non-Pacific students.[3]

Adults also rely on people for advice with a survey finding 60% of adults rely on family and friends to make choices that will affect working life.[4]

While personal connections can provide deep information, this level of deep knowledge is usually limited to a person’s own career. For school leavers, advice from family and friends can also be loaded with their own goals for the school leaver, such as getting a prestigious job or not going into a career that takes them away from home. This means that information can be biased and clouded by family and friends’ perceptions of an industry and limited to known careers.

The Careers and Transition Education Association NZ (CATE) have resources available for parents and caregivers, to help them to engage and influence their child’s career journey:

Parent resources(external link) – CATE

Career guidance services

People also receive career advice from more formal sources. 82% of students report talking to a career advisor, but only 56% reported that this was a useful resource. Career advisors are also a popular resource for adults, with 40% of adults reporting that they had spoken with a career advisor within the past 5 years.[5] However, engagement with these services is not consistent across demographic groups, with only around 15% of older workers (aged 55 to 64) accessing career guidance services.[6]


Mentoring can be a helpful tool for people at all stages of their career journey. Mentors can assist with:

  • developing skills and knowledge
  • sharing their career stories
  • guiding mentees towards opportunities to start of move up in the career
  • supporting the mentee to set goals and take action
  • signposting to advice and further help.

This can be either a formal or informal arrangement. There are a number of local examples of mentoring including:

Graeme Dingle Foundation

Provides mentoring for local rangatahi through:

  • Career Navigator Mentoring which is small group mentoring with local industry mentors – to help students to discover and plan their career pathway.
  • Toroa Career Navigator with connects young people with high-calibre business mentors, and provides an intensive programme of workshops, mentoring, and support – with the aim of helping them find a meaningful job pathway
Business Trust Marlborough

Acts as the Mentor Manager for Business Mentors NZ and provides 12 months of confidential one-on-one advice for owners of small and medium-sized businesses and organisations that are currently trading and who want to grow or need help to solve specific business challenges.


School leavers highly rate the impact that experiences have on helping them make career decisions. These include:

  • work-based experiences such as actual employment – for young people this includes experiences through Gateway placements and internships
  • tertiary providers/staff
  • open days
  • career expos. 

For young people, experience-based learning allows them to form expectations and validate their choices, which increases their confidence about a chosen pathway and reduces their uncertainty.

Case study: Queen Charlotte College Construction Academy

Queen Charlotte College (QCC) is currently developing a construction academy to support learners to gain industry skills through a 'live building site' on the school campus. QCC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Kainga Ora which formalises the partnership and the agencies support to assist with standing up the academy.

Static resources

Static resources are often used as a starting point for people when gathering knowledge to inform career decisions. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) research shows that 75% of people have searched online for information about employment, education, and training opportunities within the past 5 years.[7] Examples of static media include:

  • online career advice
  • TradeMe Jobs
  • tertiary provider websites
  • social media

While static resources are well-used, their impact is limited when they are the only source of information used. Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) research shows this is especially true for some of our demographic groups with Māori being less likely to use static resources. Neurodivergent learners also expressed difficulty accessing and engaging with online resources.[8]


[1] Tertiary Education Commission (2021) 'Transitions from Secondary School'

[2] Tertiary Education Commission (2021) 'Transitions from Secondary School' page 67

[3] Tertiary Education Commission (2021) 'Transitions from Secondary School' page 68

[4] OECD (2021) 'Career Guidance for Adults in a Changing World of Work' page 26

[5] OECD (2021) 'Career Guidance for Adults in a Changing World of Work' page 14

[6] OECD (2022) 'Strengthening Career Guidance for Mid-Career Adults in Australia' page 21

[7] OECD (2021) 'Career Guidance for Adults in a Changing World of Work' page 25

[8] Tertiary Education Commission (2021) 'Transitions from Secondary School' page 74

Last updated: 07 December 2023