Options for school leavers

When you’ve completed your GCSEs you have a big choice to make. Continue in full-time education with A-levels, or change course and take on an apprenticeship. One isn’t better than the other; you just need to figure out which suits you and your future.career choices

Apprenticeship Myths

Just because A-levels are seen as the traditional path to a degree doesn’t mean that by going down the apprenticeship route you’d be turning your back on university. Apprentices can go on to university and study for higher qualifications and last year 19% of apprentices went on to complete a degree.

Also the perception that apprenticeships are for those who “don’t have the grades” to do A-levels is completely untrue. There are some challenging apprenticeship schemes out there, with tough application processes and fierce competition for places in some of the country’s most prestigious companies. Apprenticeships offer a genuine alternative to A-levels and university, for those who want to go straight into work: an Advanced Apprenticeship for example, is equivalent to two A-level passes.

Another thing that you should consider is availability, most occupations are accessible via apprenticeships as through the traditional route. For example an accountancy  programme could comprise two years of a higher apprenticeship, followed by study for the ACA. This way takes five years to reach chartered accountancy status, where a graduate might take six.

If you don’t know what career you want to pursue, studying at university can help keep your career options open, while gaining a qualification. Also If you don’t go, there’s also the issue of missing out on the full “university experience”. And we don’t mean just the amazing social life: full-time academic study for three years, which can be very fulfilling.

Let’s talk money

However for many the issue of money is key in helping people choose which route to take. Apprenticeship training is free, and you are paid for your work, on a newly increased Apprentice National Minimum Wage. This way you will be earning and learning which provides a good balance between developing key skills that will help you succeed in your role and being able to be independent and enjoy yourself in your spare time.

A-levels are also free, but you won’t have the opportunity to earn a proper full-time wage. If you then go onto university the fees are famously hefty and go up to £45,000.There is financial support from the government, but it isn’t the same as earning a real wage as an apprentice while you learn valuable skills to do a job in an industry you want.

Remember, it’s your choice. Take time to do your research, talk to people who’ve done an apprenticeship and to those who’ve done A-levels and been to university, and consider your own personal motivations and what you want to do in life.

Here at Opportunities Workshop we provide help and support when it comes to finding what the right option is for you. Our apprenticeship and recruitment services allow you to make the right choice when it comes to shaping your future career, just get in touch with us and call us on 01473 857140.


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