A career counsellor says she's had parents asking her to see their intermediate-age children for career counselling, but her message to them is they should let them play.
Hana Lambert told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp the pressure on school students to decide on a career can be ridiculous.
"I've had Year Eight, intermediate students, their parents wanting me to see them for career counselling. Now it's a little bit like 'let them play!'" she said.
A group of Albany Senior High School students said the pressure is on them to choose.
"You're expected to make a choice about whether or not you're going to go to uni, or if you want to take a gap year, or if you want to travel? What do I do?" one student said.
Another said: "People do say, 'You don't have to choose right away.' But the subjects you choose in Year 11 set you up for Year 12. And the ones you choose in Year 12 ones set you up for year 13."
Ms Lambert said 'What do you want to be?' is not the right question to ask young people.
"That's the quintessential question that every young person dreads. I think that when young people say, 'Yes, yes, I've got it all sorted', it's a bit of a deflection to keep people off their backs."
Some Albany Senior High School students have had enough with the mixed messages they receive.
"We're told, 'You're going to work so many careers in your life because machines are doing jobs now.' But then we're also being asked to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives. Those are two very different messages," one said.
Ms Lambert says many parents are not up to speed on how the workforce has changed.
"A while ago, to have a portfolio that said you were only somewhere for two years was a bit of a flag - 'why are they chopping and changing?' Whereas now, having a long time in one industry or one job can sometimes be seen as, 'Oh, why have they been there that long. Are they afraid to tackle change?'
"It's not a career for life now, it is a starting point," she said.