RESEARCH shows that more than half of parents in the Westcountry admit putting off conversations with their teenage children about careers.

Almost two in five parents feel that they do not know enough to start useful discussions about careers and qualifications.

As a result, nearly 50 per cent of young people aged 14 to 19 in the region say they are inspired by careers they see portrayed in television shows.

Hannah Grabham, from the National Careers Service, said: "When it comes to careers and understanding post-16 and post-18 education routes, parents are not expected to have all the answers.

"What's most important is to be open to exploring all available routes, including those that may feel unfamiliar."

The Department for Education's Skills for Life campaign helps young people and their parents explore their education and training choices, including T Levels, apprenticeships, and Higher Technical Qualifications.

However, seeking inspiration and information from television shows has driven some young people in the direction of a successful career path.

Millie Holley, 19, a trainee nurse from Taunton, said: "I was definitely inspired by certain TV programmes when it came to thinking about my future career.

"I've always wanted to be a nurse and watching programmes like 24 Hours in A&E and 999 On The Frontline fuelled my appetite to make it a reality."

Some of the top television shows that have inspired teenagers to pursue interesting career paths include The Great British Bake Off, The Big Bang Theory, The Repair Shop, and MasterChef.

Young MasterChef judge and Michelin-trained chef Poppy O'Toole advocates for young people to take inspiration from television shows.

She said: "I wish I knew about the many different education and training routes available to me when I was younger. I love the idea that my story and involvement in shows such as Young MasterChef might inspire others to explore careers they may have otherwise thought were off the table for them."

Although watching reality shows like 24 Hours in A&E and Young MasterChef can be a helpful way of visualising a career path, officials have advised against taking inspiration from drama and comedy shows like Grey's Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory and Suits.

These shows fail to depict the realities of a career path in medicine, law, and science and can be misleading, especially for young viewers.

The Department for Education has initiated The Skills for Life campaign, which helps children and parents access information about education and training options.

The campaign is encouraging parents to use television programmes as an opportunity to initiate important conversations with their teenagers about careers in what they have called the 'Gogglebox effect'.

They said: "It may not be the most obvious setting for such topics, however, it could be the most fitting, because both parents and teens alike believe watching TV together helps the feel most connected."

As the Christmas period often provides more collective TV time, Skills for Life urges parents to make the most of time already spent watching shows together and strike up conversations about career paths and the full range of education and training choices available.