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What are the choices for my child at 16?

All young people must be in some form of education or recognised training until they are 18. The main post 16 options for young people are…

  • Full time education at a school or college e.g. A Levels or Vocational Qualifications;
  • A 'T Level' - new two year Level 3 qualifications - equivalent to 3 x A levels, delivered in college and related to a job role
  • An apprenticeship or traineeship
  • Part time education or training - this must be in addition to employment, self-employment or volunteering for a minimum of 20 hours per week.

The Government have provided a useful summary of all the options including guidelines on the type and amount of learning which is required alongside working or volunteering.

Why study after 16?

Gaining more qualifications after 16 is a good idea as more qualifications mean more job choices. Young people are, therefore, more likely to find a job they enjoy rather than taking the risk of having to do unskilled work. Better qualifications will give your child a chance to earn more money – and, research shows, have greater job satisfaction.

What are the choices at 16?

A comprehensive range of information about the education choices available to your child at the end of Year 11 is available in the Careerpilot section 'Your Choices at 16' or you can look at specific sections about:


Lots of young people choose to do A Levels and these are excellent general qualifications that are valued by employers and also universities. A Levels offer a great route to degree level study, but there are also routes to higher education from the vocational qualifications offered in colleges and in some schools.

A Levels give young people a chance to find out about their GCSE subjects in greater depth or do one of the subjects that many schools and colleges only offer at A Level such as Law, Economics or Psychology. It is possible to combine vocational qualifications such as BTEC Level 3 qualifications or OCR qualifications with A Levels depending on the school or college attending. These qualifications attract UCAS points (many universities indicate the number of UCAS points needed for entry to their courses) in the same way as A Levels.

A Levels are assessed:

  • At the end of the two year course
  • Assessment is mostly through exams

Careerpilot has a whole section about A Levels, including how to choose them and what to do on results day.

Choosing your A-Levels

Vocational qualifications

At 16 your child could choose to study towards a vocational qualification.

Vocational qualifications offer practical learning programmes that relate to specific job roles or employment sectors.

There are many different types of vocational qualifications in a wide range of subjects at all levels, from Entry Level right up to Level 8 - you can look at the Careerpilot Qualification Planner to view all qualifications and levels.

Vocational courses are designed to help young people learn in a practical way about a specific job area - helping them to get the skills needed to start a job, progress in a career or go on to higher levels of education.

Vocational qualifications include:

  • Vocational subjects that are related to a broad employment area such as business, engineering, IT, health and social care
  • Vocational courses that lead to specific jobs such as hairdressing, accounting, professional cookery, plumbing
  • Apprenticeships that are 'work-related' where you will be trained for a job role and get paid as you learn.
  • T Levels that lead to a specific job role and are equivalent to 3 A Levels.

T Levels

T Levels are new two year Level 3 qualifications - equivalent to 3 x A levels. 

  • They lead to a specific occupation and are available in a whole range of different areas, from Cyber Security to Wildlife Management. 
  • They have been designed by professional bodies, employers and universities so that they are relevant and up to date. 
  • They include at least 3 months work experience and opportunity to build transferable skills and knowledge related to the job area. 

Students can progress from a T Level on to apprenticeships, jobs and university. 

Who are they for? 

They are for 16 - 19 year olds who want to focus on developing the skills and knowledge required for a specific occupation or job sector.   

What T levels are currently being offered? 

Not all colleges are offering every T level subject - so check out your local colleges for more information.


  • Agriculture, Land Management and Production


  • Management and Administration


  • Building Services Engineering for Construction
  • Construction: Design, Surveying and Planning
  • Construction: On site - carpentry, plastering, painting and decorating, bricklaying


  • Digital Production
  • Digital Business Services
  • Digital Support Services


  • Design and Development for Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Maintenance, Installation and Repair for Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control


  • Education and Early Years


  • Health 
  • Health Science
  • Science


  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Legal Services

What T Levels there will be in the future?

  • Animal Care and Management
  • Catering 
  • Craft and Design Hairdressing 
  • Barbering and Beauty Therapy 
  • Media, Broadcast and Production

For more information:

Technical Level Qualifications

Find a T Level near you


If your child has a particular job sector or career in mind, then an apprenticeship could be a choice worth considering, although you can do an apprenticeship at any age. So your son/daughter might want to do this after sixth form or college.

Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to:

  • Gain an insight into the reality of working in a job area;
  • To develop the skills required to work in that type of employment;
  • Get paid. 

Your child would also have an improved chance of getting a job at the end of the apprenticeship - research shows that around 90% of apprentices stay in work on completion of their training and 71% of apprentices stay with the same employer.

There is a wide range of different apprenticeships in almost every type of work - although not all options are available in every job sector - some young people might find that they need to travel or, sometimes, temporarily move location to undertake the apprenticeship they have chosen. Competition for some of the more popular apprenticeship placements is intense.

Further useful information about apprenticeships is available in the Parent’s Guide to apprenticeships


If your child is aged 16 to 24 and not quite ready to start an apprenticeship, they could consider a Traineeship. Traineeships are designed to help young people who want to get an apprenticeship or job, but don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience. Traineeships aim to prepare young people for their future careers by helping them to become ‘work ready’. 

Things you could do to help your child make their post 16 choices

  • Encourage your child to think carefully about their skillsfavourite subjects and strengths and values and help them to translate these into potential employment possibilities for the future. Careerpilot has lots of information about different job sectors and profiles of different types of jobs
  • Make sure that you and your child attend your school’s Post 16 Options event - usually held in the Autumn Term of Year 11.
  • Suggest that your child looks at the Help with choosing your post 16 options area of Careerpilot.
  • Suggest they complete the Careerpilot Career Tools which will help them identify skills, experiences and achievement they already have.

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