London, Aug 7: Parents should encourage teenagers to pursue a wider range of courses, not just academic ones, campaigners say.
Educational foundation Edge warns of "academic snobbery" against vocational courses. It says a fifth of pupils think they are on the wrong path.
Going on to study for a degree for its own sake is not always suitable for the careers they really want, Edge says.
The campaign comes as pupils consider their options ahead of publication of GCSE and A-level exam results.
Many parents are influenced by ingrained prejudices against vocational qualifications, Edge claims.
They do not fully understand the wide range of learning opportunities available through further education, apprenticeships, jobs that offer workplace learning and vocational degrees.
Edge chief executive Andy Powell said: "Many parents have the belief that vocational qualifications limit young people's options, or they're for less clever kids.
"Whereas we know from employers that what is required from young people is real-world experience, practical skills and hard skills such as the ability to communicate and work in teams.
"At Edge, we're challenging all parents to stop thinking of academic qualifications as the only route to success."
Edge's findings about pupil dissatisfaction come from a recent survey of 2,000 people aged 18-30 who recounted their parents' attitudes towards their education.
'Pushy' professional parents
A further study of 5,000 parents with children aged 11-16 found adults continue to steer their children away from vocational courses, mainly through ignorance.
They discovered that more than half (57%) of parents would urge their child to pursue A-levels and academic university degrees, despite the fact that fewer than 25% know anything about many of the other options.
Academic expectations are highest among professional parents, with 70% hoping their child will go to university, compared with 37% of non-professionals.
The research follows government plans in England to introduce a Diploma next year which will mix academic and vocational qualifications, alongside GCSEs and A-levels.
It is designed to encourage more young people to stay in education and training and make them more employable in a marketplace which demands a highly-skilled workforce.
The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) believes that the vocational route is an important step in encouraging young people to stay on at school.
A DIUS spokesperson said: "The government is committed to a wider choice of options for all young people.
"For some, A-levels and higher education is the right route, for others vocational courses leading directly to employment or further and higher education is the correct way forward.
"Diplomas are being developed to provide a new type of qualification combining academic, vocational and work related learning as a progression route to work or higher education.
"This exciting new initiative will encourage a greater percentage of young people to stay in full time learning for longer."