Choices at 18
If you’re in the first year of college, sixth form or an apprenticeship you might think that you’ve got loads of time before you have to start planning what you’re going to do next. Whilst there’s no need to rush into making a definite decision just yet you can’t afford to be too laid back. The planning and researching you’ll need to do is going to take both time and effort.
Options open to you at 18 include:
- Apprenticeships - Anyone aged over 16 years old, living in England and not in full-time education can apply to be an apprentice. There’s nothing to stop a sixth-form or college leaver applying! An Apprenticeship would be a direct route into your chosen career giving you the opportunity to gain qualifications whilst working for an employer and earning a wage. Most of the training you’d do would be on the job, working alongside experienced staff to gain job specific skills. You may also spend time away from the workplace with a training or learning provider working on your qualifications and building up skills and knowledge.
- Employment - Getting a job and earning some money can seem really appealing. Today’s job market can be a competitive one so you will need to be proactive and organised in your job search. Being able and willing to travel can increase the range and number of opportunities open to you. If possible aim for a job that offers training leading to a nationally recognised qualification. The more qualifications and work related skills you gain now the better your long-term job prospects are likely to be.
- Further Education - An extra year in further education could be an option if you want to boost your grades, gain qualifications and skills relevant to a particular job or enhance some of your skills to make you more employable. There are different types and levels of courses available including full-time, part-time, evening, intensive and distance learning ones. You will need to make sure that you’ll be challenged, especially if you’re studying at the same level, if not you may get bored or demotivated.
- Gap Year - Taking a gap year between finishing at sixth form or college and starting higher education or work is an option lots of young people consider. If you’re confused about your options or just need some breathing space to decide what you want to it may be something to consider. It could provide an opportunity to review your plans and make your mind up about the way forward. Gap years usually involve travelling, volunteering (at home or abroad), gaining work experience in an area that interests you (paid or unpaid), getting a job to earn some money or a mixture of these.
- Higher Education - Higher education could open doors to all sorts of new possibilities; better jobs, increased earnings, more choices and an exciting future. But It can take a lot of hard work, commitment and can be expensive. It needs careful research and planning.
- School and College Leaver Programmes - A number of national and international organisations and businesses offer school and college leaver programmes. The makeup of these programmes varies and there are ones that involve working towards professional qualifications at degree level and even beyond. Entry requirements are decided by the individual organisation or business with many asking for specific A ‘Level grades or UCAS points. School and college leaver programmes provide training in a specific careers area and can be an alternative route to higher education into professions such as accountancy, engineering, retail and banking
- Self-Employment - Working for yourself, rather than for an employer, is an option that some 18 year-old school and college leavers do take up. Running a business and being your own boss can be a very tempting proposition. Opportunities also exist to work for yourself in a freelance capacity in lots of careers, for example health and fitness, financial services, sales and construction trades. Self-employment is particularly suited to young people who are determined, motivated, committed and passionate about their choice.
- Studying Abroad - If you’re interested in living and learning in another county then studying abroad is an option that you many want to explore. A growing number of European (and further afield) universities teach a range of their degree courses in English. University tuition fees vary from country to country. In some European countries they are lower than at home whilst in other European countries such as Denmark and Sweden they are currently free. As a European Union citizen you would pay the same tuition fees as a resident of the European country you’re study in. You are also entitled to apply for any grants available in that country to help with tuition fees.
For more information talk to your teachers or careers contact at your school or college. You can also call The National Careers Service on 0800 100 900.