Your choices at 16

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) 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 GCSE grades you have achieved.
  • How you like to learn.
  • Where and what you would like to study later.
  • What job/career you woul like in the future.

What you can do to make the right choice

  • Find out about the 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.
  • 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.

What is known about the future 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, problem-solving, teamworking, effective communication and being prepared to learn new things will be as important as focusing on a specific job.

Online Treasure Hunt Competition

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Clue 2

Scott is currently in Year 11 and is considering an apprenticeship rather than staying on at school as he is keen to start earning a salary, whilst gaining more qualifications. He has an interest in cars and would like to learn more about the engineering aspect of vehicles. Scott has been told that there are different levels of apprenticeships but doesn't know how much he might be paid. Go to the apprenticeships section of Careerpilot and find out how much apprentices earn, whilst finding Token 2.

Hi, I'm Scott and I really want to leave school after my GCSE's and earn some money. I love messing about with old cars and going to track days so think that a career in motorsport engineering would be interesting. I'm not sure how much money I would earn and so want to learn more about this.