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Choices with Post-18

You are in the fortunate position of having a variety of different pathways you could follow, from the traditional university and employment route, through to starting your own business; with every option having its own positives and drawbacks. So, it’s time to start completing some research and having the serious conversation about what is next? It’s only you who has the answer!  To support you with this, below is the information from the Post 18 Focus Day and additional reading to increase your knowledge about your different post 18 pathways options.



Studying at a Higher Education institution (University, University College and Further Education Colleges) provides you with the opportunity to study a professional career field or subject that interests you, for the next 3-4 years.   There are some strict entry requirements that can vary widely between organisations. 

Positives: Meeting new people, starting new hobbies and interests or developing the ones you have, increased career prospects, increased earning potential and studying a subject you enjoy. 

Drawbacks: Living costs (living away from home) and student loan (easily payable once earning). 


Students will be considered regardless of your level of qualification, depending on specific course entry requirement however, you all should be eligible to study Level 3 and above.  However, although Further Education Colleges allow you to gain the professional qualifications you require to enter the workplace i.e. chef, mechanic, plumber and hairdresser, for these routes you must begin at Level 1. 

Your learning will still be funded until the age of 19, as long as you are enrolled on the course, before your 19th birthday. However, foundation degrees will cost approx. £1500, compared to a university of £6000+. This route also allows the ability to study just one course that interests you. 

Positives: Entry to the workplace, one course, a 3 day learning week and 2 day’s work experience per week, entry to university (all course dependent) and tutored by career professional’s. 

Drawbacks: The inability to change your course without starting your ‘learning’ again the following year,  i.e. plumber to mechanic, early mornings and late nights due to travelling and cost of equipment (course dependent). 


Students will be considered no matter your level of qualification, depending on specific career routes and course entry requirements.  Apprenticeships allow you to ‘learn on the job’ through a professional to gain job-specific skills, and receive dedicated time for ‘learning’ through a training provider i.e. HE or a Further Education College. ‘Learning’ can take place during the day or evening.  

Traineeships are a new way for young people who are ‘work ready’ and are actively seeking employment or an apprenticeship. They provide work preparation training, Maths, English and work experience. Traineeships can last between six weeks and six months. This route has a number of different names such as ‘Pathways to Employment’. Remember, you must be in ‘learning’ for two years.  

However, these routes, should be carefully considered:  

  • For every position, 10 to 15 others apply (on average) [Apprenticeships], 

  • A small number fail to start or finish once accepted, either due to financial cutbacks or loss of interest [Apprenticeships], 

  • Length of time it takes to be successful, Year 13 can start realistically applying in April of Year 13 and not be successful for a number of years [Apprenticeships], 

Positives: ‘On the job’ learning, trained by fellow professionals, paid ‘learning’ and normally guaranteed employment straight after qualifying. 

Drawbacks: No guarantee of ever getting one, high level of applicants, completion success and a 5 day working week. 


If you feel ready for the ‘world of work’ then perhaps this could be the best route for you to follow, if you believe an apprenticeship or traineeship isn’t suitable. ‘Learning’ opportunities may not exist in this route and this will depend on your employer, with some using nationally un-recognised in-house qualifications. 

It is important to remember that you may be expected to work 37.5 to 40 hours for a full-time role with a minimum wage expectation of £5.03 per hour, beginning at an untaxed wage of £188.63 per week. 

Positives: Independence, self-reliance and building a CV with employment experiences. 

Drawbacks: Potential of low pay especially if the role is unskilled, possible lack of ‘learning’ opportunities and the likelihood of paying rent at home. 


Becoming an entrepreneur can be achieved at any age but there are specific funds available to support young people in setting up their own business, whilst supporting you with the information, advice and guidance that you may need.  These are available from groups such as Menta, The Princes Trust Enterprise, Business Link and the government backed StartUp Loans. 

Positives: Being your own boss, support and funding available whilst keeping the profits [after tax of course] and a positive experience for a CV. 

Drawbacks: No sick pay, risk of losing funding and investment by market turbulence or wrong decisions and the need for a good unique idea. 


A gap year is fast becoming a very popular option for students who want to take some time out from their studies and try something different or new, before entering the workplace or higher education. 

Gap years can take many forms include travelling, volunteering, gaining paid or unpaid work experience or a combination of all three. Many universities see the positive impact a gap year can hold if it is used wisely, such as teaching experiences aboard or in the UK for a teaching training degree. 

Positives: Exciting new challenges, meeting new people, potentially see a different part of the world and the opportunity to further yourself. 

Drawbacks: Expense (if travelling aboard), potential of not earning any money and possibility of leaving home and the UK for a long period.