Options overview

Pathways from 16+

Young people in England are required by law to stay in education or training until aged 18. Yet many don’t feel informed enough to decide which training or education pathway is right for them and can end up rushing their choices at 14, 16 and 18 without thinking them through.

Having regular conversations with your child about their job and career goals and their training and education options, will hopefully help the big decision times go more smoothly. This should result in your child making choices that are right for them as well as the career they have in mind.

Post 16 Education Options - Talking Futures

Pathways from 16+

Young people in England are required by law to stay in education or training until aged 18. Yet many don’t feel informed enough to decide which training or education pathway is right for them and can end up rushing their choices at 14, 16 and 18 without thinking them through.

Having regular conversations with your child about their job and career goals and their training and education options, will hopefully help the big decision times go more smoothly. This should result in your child making choices that are right for them as well as the career they have in mind.

Understand
the options

There are several pathways for 16 to 18-year olds to choose from, depending on what they're thinking about doing next.

If your child is ready to begin a level 3 programme they could take a T-level or A-levels. Or take up an apprenticeship, a traineeship, or select part-time learning whilst working or volunteering.

Apprenticeships

  • Apprenticeships combine study with training in a paid job.
  • Apprentices spend most of their time at work, with at least 20% of their time spent learning on the job.
  • Apprenticeships are offered at all levels, but most 16-year-olds would enter an apprenticeship at Level 2 or 3. Level 2 is equivalent to GCSEs and Level 3 is equivalent to A-levels and T-levels.
  • Apprenticeships are offered by employers, who advertise when they have vacancies. Vacancies are also advertised locally, for example through colleges, or on national websites.

T-levels

  • T-levels were introduced in 2020 and are being rolled out across the country over the next couple of years. More subjects are becoming available every year.
  • A T-level is a two-year course that focuses on technical skills. One T-level is equivalent to three A-levels.
  • T-level students spend approximately 80% of their time at college or school, learning the knowledge and skills that employers need, and 20% of their time on an industry placement.
  • After T-levels, young people can either choose to continue into employment (including opting for an apprenticeship) or select a higher education course aimed at the career they want. This could be a higher technical course or a degree.

A-levels

  • A-levels are a two-year course of study.
  • Most students study three A-levels, but you can also combine them with other qualifications.
  • After A-levels, many young people go onto higher education at college and/or university to do degrees and higher technical qualifications, while others begin working at age 18.

Other options

As well as the options listed above, there are others available from 16+ that you may want to explore with your child.

These include:

  • Other level 3 qualifications
    As well as A-levels and T-levels there are other specific qualifications at level 3 that can prepare your child for particular job roles or further study
  • Level 1 and 2 qualifications
    Additional GCSEs or other level 1 and 2 qualifications might be the right next step to help your child build their pathway to further study or the workplace
  • Transition programme
    This is a one-year study programme that might benefit your child if they need additional time to get ready to study a T-level
  • Traineeships
    A traineeship could help your child develop the right skills to begin an apprenticeship or to prepare for work and includes a placement with an employer

Education providers