Post 18 Options

Where to start?

There are lots of options to choose from at 18 which can be quite confusing for young people. Opportunities are changing as the labour market continues to change at a rapid pace due to technological advances, globalisation and the affects of environmental change.

University is still a way into certain professions and can be a more desirable option for those of a more academic nature who want to study for a certain discipline for the love of a subject. However, Apprenticeships are being continually developed as an exciting alternative route which offers added benefits to many school leavers.

Some young people may be unsure of what they want to do and may prefer to take some time out to explore their options and gain some life experience before deciding. Whilst others may know exactly what they want to do and jump straight into the world of work to start their career.

The most important thing is that young people explore all of their options and decide on the most appropriate pathway that is suitable for their strengths and interests as this will provide the foundation to begin to build a successful life and career.

UCAS (the applications service for university and some apprenticeships) has provided this useful template to help your decision-making about whether you would like to go to university, go to work or start an apprenticeship.

Watch the short video clip below for help with your Post 18 Options.


University may be a good choice for a number of reasons; you may want the ‘University life” and live semi-independently, make new friends with similar interests, move away from home and develop life skills, broaden your skills and experience by joining clubs and societies. These are all examples of what University can offer.

You may have a love for a certain subject and really want to study it at a higher level to learn everything there is to know about it. If this is the case, University may be a good choice.

It may be that you want to pursue a certain profession that is only accessible by going to university. Whilst many career paths have been opened up by the Apprenticeship route, there are certain careers that are currently only accessible via a university (or widely accessible). For example, this includes medicine, veterinary medicine and architecture.


Apprenticeships involve working for an employer in a specific role while being trained to do the job by experienced staff, in a combination of on the job and off the job training at a college or training provider (this must be at least 20% of the apprenticeship). This may be a desirable option for young people who know the career they would like to pursue and would like to gain further qualifications whilst developing relevant skills and experience.

Recent developments in the Apprenticeship pathway mean that they are now a route into high skilled professions such as engineering, law, science and nursing for example.

Young people who have already gained a Level 3 qualification may consider going on to an Advanced, Higher or Degree Level Apprenticeship depending on their current qualifications and career aspirations:

Advanced/Level 3 (equivalent to A Level) – usually requires 5 GCSEs at Grade 4 and above

Higher/Level 4-5 (equivalent to Foundation Degree) – usually requires L3 or A Levels

Degree/Level 6-7 (equivalent to University Degree) – usually requires 3 A Levels or similar

For more information follow the link below or click on the poster and animation.



Vocational Qualifications

There are many vocational options young people can pursue at age 18 including NVQs, Higher National Certificates or Higher National Diplomas which can be studied part-time alongside employment or in the workplace.

The option to study for a vocational qualification is often offered by employers to enable employees to improve their theoretical understanding of their work.

This may be a desirable option for young people who want to begin their career and continue with their learning in the workplace.

Gap Year

If you are unsure what you want to do, a gap year could be a good option. It can give you the chance to develop your self-awareness by gaining a better understanding of your values, strengths and qualities and this may help you decide what you may want to do, whether that be work, further study, or a mixture of both.

A gap year could involve a job to develop some skills and experience, work experience either at home or abroad, a volunteering placement or an opportunity to travel. This can give you a chance to build some life experience through meeting new people and gaining exposure to new cultures and environments.

Watch the video from Moj Taylor at PUSH for some useful advice if you are considering a Gap Year. For more useful videos from PUSH

Parent and Student Guide

For more information and support please follow the links below to access the Careers and Enterprise Parent and Student Guide.

CEC Parent Guide

CEC Student Guide