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Considering all the options

Whatever your students are thinking about doing, they need to consider all the options open to them if they are to make an informed choice. So, in this step, we will start by hearing from two careers advisers and then look at higher education alongside the other post-18 options and pathways on offer.

Start by watching the video.

1. Higher education

It offers a wide range of subjects and a lot of courses to choose from. It presents students with the opportunity to extend and deepen their knowledge in a subject they have a passion for or which will lead them to the career they’re aiming for. University isn’t just about learning; the experience enriches students’ lives and develops the essential skills and knowledge they need for their careers and working life. HE qualifications are internationally recognised and graduates have increased earning potential as well as opening up a greater choice of career pathways. However, going to uni is a step up and students need to be motivated to study and learn.

Things to consider: students could pursue a favourite subject or go for something new. It’s really worth them exploring the wider range of courses and subjects on offer. They need to check the entry requirements for any courses they’re interested in to see if the subjects they’re studying now and predicted grades are a good fit. If they have any specific career aspirations, they need to check if they need any particular subjects or qualifications to enter the career they’re aiming for.

2. Apprenticeships

These are training for a specific job so it’s important students are confident it’s the right one for them. There are many different apprenticeships available across a wide range of industries, and for a wide variety of job roles. As a paid employee, each apprentice works alongside their studies. There are Advanced, Modern/Higher Apprenticeships as well as the new Degree or graduate level Apprenticeships which enable students to achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree as part of their apprenticeship. They are available in a wide range of sectors - from engineering and boat building to veterinary nursing and accountancy.

Things to consider: Students considering this option need to be ready to start work and find out as much as they can about the job role, the career and progression route the apprenticeship could lead to. Competition for apprenticeships can be tough because there are only a limited number of vacancies available and there may be competition for places from adults already in work.

3. Going into work

Some school leavers are ready to go into employment, which offers them the opportunity to start developing the essential skills and experience they need while increasing their employability and earning. Getting work experience and building a CV will make them more attractive to employers and can open up more job opportunities in future. However, it’s important to have a focus on the sort of work and career they’re interested in, and that they are able to set out what they have to offer to potential employers.

Things to consider: Students need to have a clear idea of the type of job and career pathway they want to follow so it’s important they spend time finding out as much as they can about the job profiles, industries and employers offering the kinds of job roles they’re interested in.

4. Taking a Gap Year

It can be a good choice for students who are undecided about university or what degree or career pathway they want to take. A gap year offers the opportunity to gain skills and experiences and gives young people time to focus on what they want to do next. A productive gap year can enhance their CV and their higher education application. Admissions tutors know that some students may take a little time to readjust back to studying, but most former gap year students are generally more focused and responsible.

Things to consider: Students need to set goals to make their time productive and what they want to achieve. They need to consider what value it will add to their university study, their CV or career. There’s a lot to choose from. So research is critical. Young people also need to compare the costs, the value, and to understand the practicalities such as flights, visas, insurance and vaccinations.

5. Internships and school leaver programmes

There is a range of employer-led programmes for school-leavers which give students a direct route into the world of work and may include obtaining a qualification as part of the programme.

Things to consider: Students need to have a clear idea of the career area or pathway they want to follow and spend time finding out as much as they can about the job profiles, industries and employers offering placements and opportunities, to help young people to build up a picture of which programmes might best suit them.

Next week, we will hear more from the careers advisers, particularly on how you can support your students to explore and consider the options open to them. We will also be looking at some resources you can use to help your students consider each of the options and do their research.

In the meantime, at the bottom of this page we have provided some links to further information on each of these pathways: if you would like to find out more about these options or for your students to explore to help them understand their options at 18.

In the next step we will start exploring higher education in more depth.

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This video is from the free online course:

Smart Advice: Broadening Your Students’ Horizons