A guide to your options after GCSE's

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GCSE results will be issued on August 22, 2019. But even before then, many students will be considering their options for the future.

A-levels remain the traditional route taken for post-16 education. But there are several alternatives that students can consider. Boris Johnson has written this week that the nation needs more apprenticeships to help children from a range of academic backgrounds find meaningful and fulfilling careers. But some business owners have argued that the complexity and cost of the system puts them off participating.

Here is our guide to apprenticeships and traineeships.


What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships combine study with practical training on the job, and provide an excellent alternative to A-levels.

  • Students are thrown immediately into working-life, able to learn directly from experienced staff.
  • They will acquire job-specific skills in their chosen industry, whilst gaining a qualification in the process.
  • Apprenticeships are paid: companies such as BAE Systems, for example, offer a starting salary of around £30k on completion.

"Many students prefer a more practical learning experience which might not be possible through a classroom based A-level qualification," says Tom Laws, the education and awareness co-ordinator of Serco Services.  

Instead, he says, an apprenticeship is "a way for young people to earn while learning in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future." 

Apprenticeships have certainly experienced a surge in popularity recently. In 2014/15, 499,900 students started an apprenticeship in England, 59,500 more than the previous year. And with the Government's new apprenticeship levy due to come into force in 2017, the number on offer will only increase.

What level will I study at?

Students can undertake an apprenticeship at a number of different levels.

  • Intermediate - the level that post-GCSE students should expect to start at. 
  • Advanced - the equivalent of two A-levels.
  • Higher – which can extend to qualifications at levels 6 (BA/BSc) and 7 (MA/MSc).

Students can apply for an apprenticeship in a variety of sectors, including business administration, accountancy, healthcare and education and training. 

"92 per cent of apprentices say their career prospects have improved," says Olly Newton, the director of policy and research at the Edge Foundation.  Apprenticeships provide a simpler, debt-free route into the working world.  


For students not yet ready for an apprenticeship, a traineeship provides an attractive alternative.

Programmes last from six weeks to six months, and offer high quality work placements, work-preparation training and support in both English and Maths.

Traineeships are usually targeted at school leavers, struggling to secure an apprenticeship. Yet, they may also appeal to students with limited work place experience, yet these qualifications is not paid work.


At the end of the work placement, if a role is available, trainees will often be given the opportunity to interview for the position, or a reference and an exit interview will generally be given

Traineeships boost an individual’s CV, providing a suitable foundation for an apprenticeship or, ultimately, a job.

For more information on how to apply, click here

Telegraph Article: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education-and-careers/0/what-next-after-gcses-a-guide-to-apprenticeships-btecs-and-nvqs/