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  • There are many options available to year 13 pupils on completion of their "A" Levels, BTECs, or International Baccalaureate other than going to university.

    This blog assumes that students reading this blog will have received advice from their school or college on how to research universities and make a UCAS application.  Most students will have now have completed their UCAS application form through the UCAS web portal.

    Top Tips for those not going to university.

    If you have a career in mind, have you researched all the entry requirements and what is involved with the actual career?

    If you are unsure of your career direction, talk to a Careers Adviser. There are also online Careers Programmes which can help you. Talk to your Careers Department in the school, college or other educational institution.

    Also, you can explore careers around your favourite subjects e.g. if you enjoy mathematics think about careers in finance.

    If you have career ideas you can explore these in more detail.

    Alternatively, hobbies and interests can be a starting point for further research.

    If you have been doing part-time work or undertaking work experience in the past, has this generated any ideas? If so, you should undertake further research.

    Many careers have different career routes. The options available at the end of year 13 are:

    • Apprenticeships
    • Employment
    • College courses
    • Degrees with work experience
    • Gap year
    • Sponsored degrees
    • Professional Qualifications
    • Traineeships
    • School Leaver Programme
    • Management Training Schemes 


    It is important to pursue a career that you are going to enjoy, but it may take a couple of jobs to get there. 

    The main message after year 13 is to gain skills, knowledge and qualifications that are going to lead to sustainable and enjoyable employment.

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    How to Research Apprenticeships

    Another option available for a year 11 pupil at the end of year 11 is an apprenticeship. This blog outlines the apprenticeship option available to young people at the age of 15 / 16 when they are making plans for their future.

    What is an apprenticeship?

    An apprenticeship is an opportunity to gain skills, qualifications and work experience all at the same time whilst being paid. They range from administration to engineering. They involve learning a craft, skill or profession whilst earning a wage and gaining a recognised qualification. The apprenticeship is mainly delivered in the workplace but may involve attending a college / training provider one day a week or periodically and involve some form of studying and reading. 

    Once the apprenticeship has finished it is hoped that the apprentice will be taken on as a permanent full time employee, gain promotion or go on to higher education in a college or university.

    How much do apprentices get paid?

    There is a national minimum wage. From 1 October 2015 all apprentices must be paid a minimum of £3.30 per hour. Some organisations pay more. As apprentices progress they may get paid more.

    An apprenticeship for a young person means that:

    • They can gain new skills and qualifications and also gain recognition for their existing skills and knowledge
    • They learn at their own pace and get support, when required
    • They get to experience new and different challenges
    • They can also gain new skills and knowledge which can be used across a range of jobs and industries

    Important Tips When Considering an Apprenticeship

    • Firstly, it is competitive to gain a place on an apprenticeship.
    • Secondly, you can use the apprenticeship search and find tool, please follow the link https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship
    • Thirdly, you can approach organisations directly to see if they are willing to take on apprentices  
    • Lastly, it may be difficult to find one so you will need a backup plan.

    Finally, a possible backup plan may include applying to a local College of Further and Higher Education or 6th Form.

    Good Luck.

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    For some students it is worth considering moving to a College of Further and Higher Education known as Further Education (FE) colleges. These colleges (not all, you need to check) generally offer both A-levels and vocational qualifications (work related courses).

    However, a college environment is different from a school and it is worth considering the following:

    • Are you an independent learner?
    • Can you manage your time effectively?
    • Are you interested in vocational, rather than purely academic qualifications?
    • Do you like to be treated as an adult?


    Choosing your subjects / course(s)

    • What subjects / course(s) are you interested in?
    • What subjects / course(s) will you do well in?
    • What subjects / course(s) will help you pursue your chosen career?

    If you are unsure about your career destination then you should be choosing subjects / course(s) that will enable you to keep your options open.

    Entry Requirements

    The entry requirements to study A-levels in an F.E. College are unlikely to be different from a sixth form, but you may be able to study less subjects.

    For students achieving A to C grades at GCSE you should be aiming for a level 3 qualification.

    However, with some courses you may have to start at level 2. This is to ensure you have the underpinning knowledge of that subject. This will be discussed with you at interview stage.


    A Further Education College timetable is slightly different from a school timetable as you will have free periods/days and your learning may be condensed into for example 3 days.  Students may choose to use this time doing course work/homework, working part-time to build work experience, volunteering and/or becoming involved in college activities.

    If you are considering going to a Further Education College it is worth going along to        Open Days/ Evenings  and talking to subject teachers, current students, careers advisers and having a tour of the campus. Should you wish to study at an FE college it is important to get your application in early as courses do fill up.

    If you feel that you may need additional support at the college it is important to ask for it.  Colleges have budgets for this.

    If you are unsure, keep your options open by choosing a range of subjects / course(s) and talk to a Careers Adviser.

    Finally, it is advisable to have a back-up plan just in case.

    A useful website to help with research is www.ucasprogress.com. 

    Read all the information from the college and check application deadlines.

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    Are you looking to restructure your organisation or make people redundant?

    Your employees may need some help and support to understand the contemporary job market.

    All the research suggests that people who are helped and supported are more likely to make a successful transition to their next destination. Bringing in outside help frees up Human Resources time and energy and shows the organisation is trying to help staff. It can also be a motivating factor for those ‘surviving’ a change management programme. 

    For employees involved in a restructure or being made redundant can be a very stressful period. Being able to talk to an independent and impartial careers professional helps to allay some of their fears and also allows employees to understand how the contemporary job market works. It also enables them to plan their future career direction.

    Stirling Careers Consultancy recently worked with an organisation which was restructuring to help staff reapply for their jobs in the new structure. Most staff had been at the organisation for number of years and they were unsure of the contemporary job market.

    During the restructure staff had to reapply for their jobs and Stirling Careers Consultancy helped them with their applications for their new roles. Stirling Careers Consultancy helped them with their Curriculum Vitaes (CV), covering letters and Interview Techniques (see SCC Blogg on 2nd January 2015 entitled 'Job Search' covering these topics.)

    Sometimes it can be harder going for an internal vacancy than an external vacancy. Never assume the organisation / interview panel fully understand your current role. Also, they may not know what your full range of abilities and skills are so you need to sell yourself to the panel in the most effective way.

    Stirling Careers Consultancy will work with the organisation to put together a tailored programme of support for your employees. If you need any help please contact Email: info@stirlingcareersconsultancy.co.uk or Telephone: 0790 461 4946

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