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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Choices at 16: what's right for you

Once you get to 16, you've got some decisions to make about your future. Do you want to stay on in full-time education? Or would you prefer to start work and get training while you earn?

It pays to keep learning

After Year 11, you have a lot more choice about what you want to do.

Whichever route you choose, it pays to keep learning. More and more, employers are looking for people with higher level skills and qualifications.

Although qualifications cannot guarantee you a job, people with the right skills and qualifications have a better chance of finding a job with good prospects and more money. They may also have more job security.

Making plans in Year 11

If you’ve got a particular career in mind, it’s also worth finding out if you need to have specific qualifications, skills or experience. See ‘Finding a career that's right for you’ for more on career planning or download 'It's your choice' to find out about post-16 options.

Which route should you follow?

There are lots of different ways of gaining further qualifications, skills or work experience - and the range of options is growing.

You could:

  • continue in full-time education, either at school or college
  • continue your learning through work-based training

If you’re aged 16 or 17 and coming towards the end of a school or college course, the ‘September Guarantee’ means that you’ll definitely be able to continue learning.

Everyone in this age group due to leave education is guaranteed an offer of a place on an appropriate course - and information, advice and guidance to help weigh up their options.

To find out what’s available near you, check your local online 14-19 area prospectus.

Staying in full-time education

You’ll find a much wider range of subjects and qualifications than you’ve been able to choose from up until now.

As well as A levels, you can choose from a growing range of work-related qualifications. Selected schools and colleges are also offering the Diploma qualification for 14 to 19-year-olds.

Depending on what you want to study, you could decide to stay on at school, or go to a sixth form college, specialist college or further education college.

If you have a disability or learning difficulty, it’s also worth checking how your school or college could provide extra help to ensure that you are assessed fairly.

Learning at work

If you want to start work, it’s important to pick a job that offers you planned training leading to a nationally recognised qualification.

There are lots of ways to improve your skills and get qualifications, from Apprenticeships to the ‘Entry to Employment’ scheme. As an alternative, you may be entitled to ‘Time off for Study or Training’. Follow the links below to find out more about these and other options after 16.

Getting work experience

When you've finished your studies, you could consider taking time out before going on to higher education. Voluntary work, travel and working abroad can all be ways of gaining valuable experience.

Routes into university and higher education

By continuing with full-time learning or starting an Apprenticeship, you can take important steps towards qualifying for a higher education course.

Help with making a decision

You can get information and advice through your school’s careers library or resource centre or your local authority.

You can also get free and confidential advice from a careers adviser. You can contact a careers adviser by phone, email, webchat or text message.

  • telephone: 0800 100 900

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