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Your choices at 16

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The different pathways you can choose at 16.



At 16, you have many more choices open to you than you had at 14, including which type of qualification pathway might suit you best. Bear in mind that you can move between pathways later and that progression to higher education is possible from all pathways.




Choosing the right pathway for you!



Many people do choose to stay on at school but there are other choices too, like studying at a college or a training provider or getting a job with training. What is important is to get the course or training to suit your skills and aspirations.

After GCSEs there are three main pathways to choose from and making the decision between the different pathways needs careful thought.

  • General academic e.g. A Levels (offered at schools and colleges)

  • Work-based: e.g. Apprenticeships (learning on the job but also with a learning provider)

  • Vocationally-related: this could be through a 'vocational subject' related to a broad employment area such as business, engineering, IT, health and social care, etc. or through a 'vocational course' that leads to specific jobs such as hairdressing, accounting, professional cookery or plumbing

  • There are also opportunities for young people to work or volunteer for 20 hours a week as long as they are also working towards a qualification - check this out with your school or college.

The pathway you choose will be based on the following:

  • What grades of GCSE you have achieved
  • How you like to learn
  • Where and what you would like to study later
  • What you want to do in the future

What you can do to make the right choice

  • Find out about different careers that interest you.
  • Get advice from the people who know you like your parents and teachers and from those with expertise in this area, like careers advisers.
  • Look at the qualifications on offer to you in your school and in local colleges and also consider whether an Apprenticeship might be a good route for you.
  • If you are interested in a higher education course at 18/19 or in the future then check out the entry requirements.
  • Find out what other people with the qualifications you are interested in have gone on to do. Also, find out whether employers are asking for these qualifications.
  • Watch this video from leading universities urging students to think about how their A-Level or equivalent subject choices can widen or limit the degree courses and careers that are open to them.
  • Look in the 'Help with choosing' section of Careerpilot to find links to other sites that can help you make the right choice for you.

Although the UK is currently struggling to get out of recession take a long-term view as in a few years time things might well have improved.

What is known is:



  • You are likely to change jobs many times in your working life as there are few ‘jobs for life’
  • New jobs are emerging all the time as technology advances
  • As people retire there will be job opportunities for younger people
  • The number of jobs requiring higher skills is likely to increase.

With these things in mind, having skills like flexibility, good communication skills and being prepared to learn new things is likely to be as important as having a specific job in mind.