Planning for your future beyond GCSEs
Column by Grantham College careers adviser Vincent Agorini
Students must stay in education or training until they are 18, but this does not mean they have to stay at school.
The good news is, there is more choice than ever about where you do your study or training, you can choose from a range of options:
- Full-time education, such as college or school.
- An apprenticeship
- Part-time education or training if you are employed or self-employed for 20 hours or more a week.
- Voluntary route with training
Gaining more qualifications after 16 is a good idea as more qualifications mean more job choices. Young people are, therefore, more likely to find a job they enjoy rather than taking the risk of having to do unskilled work. Better qualifications will give you a chance to earn more money – and, research shows, have greater job satisfaction.
Many Further Education Colleges and school sixth forms offer a range of vocational courses. At Grantham College we offer a wide range of study options including:
- Vocational subjects - related to a broad employment area such as business, engineering, IT, health and social care. Previously called BTECs and OCR Cambridge Nationals, if they are at Level 3 these are now called Applied Vocational Qualifications. These courses are offered in colleges and schools.
- Vocational courses - that lead to specific jobs such as hairdressing, accounting, professional cookery, or construction. These courses are called Technical Level Qualifications (Tech Levels) and are offered mostly at colleges.
- Apprenticeships - Apprenticeships offer training for a job while working for an employer, alongside study for an Apprenticeship Standard. You get paid as you learn.
A good place to start planning your post-16 options is to think of these three questions.
- Where am I now? (What qualifications, skills, and interests do I have?)
- Where do I want to get to? (What would I like to be doing in 5 years’ time – job, living away from home, etc?)
- How will I get there? (What course, training or future job is likely to get me where I want to go?)
Of course, at 16, you don’t necessarily know the answers to all these questions, but the earlier you start exploring opportunities and information about careers, jobs and courses the more prepared you will be to make the transition.
If you really aren’t sure about what you want to do in the future, then ‘stay broad’ - do a broad range of subjects so that you can decide later!
It might also help to get advice from people who know you well (like parents and teachers) or ask your school careers adviser. Grantham College offers a free impartial careers service. Contact the college to arrange an appointment or email firstname.lastname@example.org