A young person’s options

You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays. However the law now says that young people in England must stay in education or training until at least their 18th birthday.

Many young people decide to stay at school but there are alternatives:

  • Home education
  • A Traineeship
  • An Apprenticeship
  • Full-time employment or volunteering (at least 20 hours a week) which is combined with part-time education or training
  • Continuing full-time education at a sixth form college or Further Education (FE) College

Home education is not a common choice for those leaving Year 11 but the others are covered in a little more detail in this website.

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Traineeships are for young people who do not have a job and who need to gain experience in the work place.  They are work experience programmes for young people  who need extra help before moving on to an apprenticeship or employment.  Traineeships are aimed at young people aged 16-24 with limited exam results who have the potential (given the right support) to succeed in an apprenticeship.

They last anything from six weeks to a maximum of six months with the content tailored to the needs of the individual trainee.

You would normally not be paid whilst on a traineeships but many employers cover at least some of the expenses of travel and food and you may be able to get support from 16-19 Bursary Fund or the 19+ Discretionary Learner Support Fund.

Improving your foundation skills as part of a traineeship can be an extremely effective way of preparing for progression, a higher level of learning and eventually better job prospects.



There is already a lot of information on the internet about Apprenticeships. It is a good idea to spend some time understanding how these work. They are very different to the apprenticeships that were around a few generations ago.

What is an Apprenticeship?

On an apprenticeship young people study for qualifications at the same time as working. They divide their time between an employer and typically a FE college although occasionally the apprenticeship training is also delivered in the workplace.

Typically an employer will offer an apprenticeship and young people apply in a similar way to a normal job. Competition is often strong so you’ll need to show determination, aptitude and commitment.

To start an apprenticeship you must be 16 or over and not in full time education.  There are three levels of apprenticeships starting with those designed for young people with average GCSE grades working up to those with A levels or an Advanced Diploma.

  • Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2; equivalent to five good GCSE passes) :  provides you with the skills and qualifications for your chosen career and allow entry (if desired) to an Advanced Apprenticeship.  To be accepted you need to be enthusiastic,  keen to learn and have a reasonable standard of education ;
  • Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3; equivalent to two A-level passes) : to start this programme, you should have five GCSEs (grade A*-C) or have completed an Intermediate Apprenticeship. This will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need for your career and allow entry (if desired) to a Higher Apprenticeship or degree level qualification ;
  • Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4/5; equivalent to a Foundation Degree) : to start this programme, you should have a Level 3 qualification (A-Levels, Advanced Diploma or International Baccalaureate) or have completed an Advanced Apprenticeship.

There are lots of benefits to doing an apprenticeship. You can learn while you earn and in a way that is best suited to you. As an apprentice you:

  • Earn a salary (though not usually the same as a full-time employee)
  • Get paid holidays
  • Are paid while attending college
  • Receive training and gain qualifications
  • Can potentially progress to degree level

Apprenticeship training can take between one and four years to complete, but the length of an apprenticeship depends on its level, the industry in question and the skills the apprentice already has.

There is no official upper age limit but government policy means that apprentices who start their training when they are 19 or older attract less funding to cover the training costs.  In reality this means that few apprentices are aged over 19 and almost none are over 24.

You’ll also find it hard to get an apprenticeship if you already hold a Level 4 qualification or if you have lived in the UK for less than 3 years

How much do I get paid as an Apprentice?

  • The National Minimum Wage for an Apprentice is £3.40 an hour if you are 18 or under.
  • If you are aged 19 or over and in your first year of an apprenticeship; the National Minimum Wage for an Apprentice is £3.40 an hour, rising to the National Minimum Age for your age after the first year.

Some employers pay more than the minimum wage, but this is entirely their decision, they don’t have to.

What can I do to increase my chances of getting an Apprenticeship?

You can also find your own employer to employ you as an Apprentice.
This could be with a family or friends business, or a local business where you would be interested in working.
You can phone, email and walk in to give in a copy of your CV to show you are interested. Many companies will get a lot of CVs emailed to them, so calling ahead and visiting the company will increase your chances of being successful.
This is a good way to create a good first impression.

If I find an employer, how can City College Coventry help?

We can deliver Apprenticeships in a range of subjects, once you have found an employer come and speak to us. We can talk to the employer about what they need to do next and support them through the process of employing an apprentice.

Finding out more

If your daughter or son has a query about apprenticeships they can find out more from the .Gov Apprenticeship webpage, ask a careers adviser who comes into their school or speak to a careers adviser from the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900. The National Careers Service also offer webchat, texts and other means of getting in touch as listed on their Contact an Adviser webpage for young people.

Important things to consider

Starting an apprenticeship can affect the families benefits. It’s counted as full time, paid employment as part of the household income.
Parents will no longer be able to claim Family Allowance if the apprentice is 19 and under.
Apprentices have to pay for their own sight tests, prescriptions and glasses although everyone under 18 still gets free dental treatment.

There is help available for apprentices on a low income, for example :
The NHS low income scheme
Apprentices NUS discount card:

Staying on at school

Historically, staying on at school is seen as the natural route for students with good qualifications and higher aspirations. It is certainly a strong route for those that like and thrive in a structured 5-day a week environment.

However it’s not for everyone and you might want to consider other options especially if a student:

  • Didn’t get the English and Maths results they were hoping for. For example FE colleges now teach these essential subjects alongside the main study programme so that students learn with different tutors and in different ways. Many students go on to greatly improve their results and open up new training and employment possibilities.
  • Enjoy less structured, more self-managed forms of learning. All Apprenticeships and college courses have a large degree of trust an expectation on the student to manage their own learning and set their own stretching targets. Many notice this as a big difference from school and find moving on to higher study, for example at University, to be a smoother process as a result.
  • Wants to study specialist professions or vocations that schools find if more difficult to provide for. Hairdressing, Catering and the construction trades are good examples of this but there are many more.

Students with good grades should certainly consider school sixth forms however there are many different routes to University, to good employment and career satisfaction and it’s worth making sure the student understands them all before making a final choice.

College courses

Studying at a college often means entering a more diverse, adult and independent environment. Some students are ready for this, others might find it a challenge. All colleges want students to succeed and prepare for fulfilling future careers. You’ll therefore find a wide range of support, form financial guidance and possible access to funds, though emotional and personal support.

For those who choose it they often find a new challenging but highly rewarding environment, one that opens many doors, to blended employment and first jobs with respected local companies, through joining the family business and keeping the door open on University and further study.

You’d expect a webpage hosted by a college to support this route but we only want to do that if it’s right for the student. Therefore we suggest that potential students:

  • Visit as many open days and events as they can
  • Get work experience in areas that interest them and ask employers about the options available.
  • Keep an open mind

Giving advice

As a parent or carer, you are likely to be the single biggest influence on your child’s thoughts and feelings about their future career. You are reading this because you care deeply about them having a happy and productive life. It is really important that you are aware of the influence you have and that you try your best to make this positive, supportive and empowering rather than negative, restricting and disempowering.
A good parent helps their child the most when they:

  • Have a good general understanding of the options available
  • Listen carefully to their child’s views without being judgmental or critical
  • Are open to new ideas and possibilities
  • Encourage them to explore all their options

How can I help my child with their career plans?


  • Talk to them from time to time about possible careers they might be interested in and why they appeal. Don’t make a big deal out of it. There will be plenty of opportunities for such an exchange of ideas that crop up naturally while you are doing something else. This way it won’t seem forced or patronizing.
  • Ask them about the help available in their school. Is there a careers library? Are there careers programs they can access on the school’s computers? Are there careers lessons or special sessions related to the world of work, job applications etc?
  • Some schools arrange for their students to complete a career interests questionnaire. Check whether this will happen with your child. If so, it is an excellent opportunity to start a natural, unforced conversation about their future options.
  • Help them to explore the possible employers, apprenticeship providers and further education courses available in your local area. You should be able to find lots of useful information on these things on the web site of your local council. Keep an eye out for things like open days (at colleges and training organisations) and careers fairs held locally.
  • Encourage them to participate in out of school activities. These are valuable in themselves and will help greatly later on in giving a good impression to people like employers or course tutors.
  • If a careers adviser attends parents evenings take advantage of this opportunity to gather useful information and broaden out your child’s career thinking. They will probably find this a little embarrassing so hang back and give them the chance to ask their own questions in their own way.
  • Check whether the school has a formal work experience programme during Key Stage 4 or in the sixth form. If not, check out the possibility of arranging something yourself with work colleagues or friends.

Remember that career choice is a personal decision. Do not try to steer your child to a particular career because you think you know best or because it is a job you might like.

To supplement the support offered by schools the government has created an organisation called the National Careers Service which offers online support for young people aged 11-19 via text/email, a free phone telephone advice line, web chat and on their web site:

Encourage and support – but don’t dictate!

Support from parents is very important when key decisions such as subject choices are being made. While it may not always feel that way, young people do take notice of advice offered to them by their parents or carers. Just keep in mind that your child’s decisions should be based on their personal interests, aspirations and abilities. It should not be about you running their life for them.

The more you know about the information, advice and guidance that is available and where it can be accessed the better. Don’t be afraid to contact the school= or college if you have any questions.

Parents’ ProPortal

Students are much more likely to be successful in their studies if they’re supported by their parents and families as well as their tutors.

Parent ProPortal allows parents and other legal guardians to see a student’s progress at college via a password-protected webpage. You’ll be able to see the Individual Learning Plan (ILP), including key information such as attendance records, targets and progress against learning aims. Parents of under 18s have always had the right to see this information, the online service simply makes it more accessible and more up-to-date.

This is the first year we are using this system and we are excited to be able to invite all parents to play their part.

You’ll need to apply, as this service is available on request only. If your son / daughter is 18 or over we’ll need their permission to share that information.

Please note, the link below were updated November 2016.

Request a login or login to ProPortal