Let's Connect! 0161 832 03 03 CEA@connectionsrec.co.uk

Contrary to modern beliefs, university really isn’t for everyone. While the path to further academia is still the most common route to follow in the UK, there are plenty of other options that can provide paid work, and arm school leavers with the skills needed for them to flourish in the working world.
So what kind of alternatives to university are out there, and how do you know which path is best for you? Here are a few avenues for you to explore.

Degree Apprenticeships

Qualifications needed: Five GCSEs ranging from 9-4, and Level 3 qualifications such as A Levels, NVQ/SVQ Level 3, or a BTEC National

If the fees of a degree are putting you off university, then a Degree Apprenticeship can work in your favour. Here you’ll gain a degree while building up a variety of workplace skills, allowing you to graduate debt free.
Essentially, this scheme combines academic study with the hands-on, practical experience of an apprenticeship. Courses can inevitably vary, but you’ll be looking at working three to four days a week on average, and studying at university for one or two days. Time will also be dedicate to study during exam periods.
A full Bachelor’s Degree will be rewarded, but you’ll possess a huge amount of work experience thrown in for good measure. This will give you a serious advantage over university leavers.
Although living costs will need to be covered, your employer will pick up your tuition and training fees.
Do bear in mind though that these kind of placements are usually only available for STEM subjects such as engineering and electronics, but you can still find opportunities in industries such as finance and business management.

Foundation Degrees

Qualifications needed: No specific set of entry requirements

For those of you who are already passionate about a particular industry, Foundation Degrees are an excellent path to follow.
This works out as two thirds of a typical Honours Degree. It’s a similar structure to Degree Apprenticeships, which provide both academic study and practical work experience. These are usually organised by universities in partnership with colleges.
Students can then progress further with a full-time job role from here, but many tend to opt for a ‘top up’ Foundation Degree through UCAS.

Higher Apprenticeships

Qualifications needed: Five GCSEs ranging from 9-4, and Level 3 qualifications such as A Levels, NVQ/SVQ Level 3, or a BTEC National

While a Degree Apprenticeship provides school leavers with a full Bachelor’s Degree, (6 or 7 level qualification) a Higher Apprenticeship will give you a level 4-5 qualification. This equates to a Foundation Degree, or the first year of an undergraduate degree.
You’ll be working full time, earning money and gaining solid practical experience for your desired field. A certain amount of study time is required, which will either take place at a college/university or an independent provider.
The full costs of this scheme are funded by the Government, as well as your employer.

Work Experience/Internships

Qualifications needed: Dependent upon the role in question

Best suited to those looking to get a foot in the door of their chosen industry. This can also work well if you’re looking to try out a new field before committing to a full-time job.
It can sometimes be difficult to find a suitable entry level role, especially if your chosen field is particularly competitive. Gaining vital experience, even for a couple of weeks or so, can give you a huge advantage- you’ll be able to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of your desired industry to prospective employers.
The only downside is 9 times out of 10, these placements are unpaid. It’s therefore important to suss out whether this is a financially viable option for you before you make any serious commitments.

Entry Level Jobs

Qualifications needed: Varied. In some cases, no qualifications are required

If you’re keen to jump straight into the working world and start earning money, an entry level job is a no brainer. These roles are designed specifically for school leavers, so a degree isn’t required. Certain positions will need specific grades, while others will focus upon soft skills such as communication and time management.
Those who land entry level jobs can have a fair advantage over graduates. You may not possess higher qualifications, but you’ll ultimately be able to demonstrate your ability to learn and grow in a workplace environment. This is an attribute that many graduates can lack. It can take time to progress in your career, but be patient- your hard work will pay off in the end!
Keep an eye out for openings across job boards online, and be sure to attend any job fairs that are designed for school leavers. It’s essential that your CV is up to the highest standard possible, so seek help from peers and teachers if you need assistance.
So don’t feel any pressure to attend university if you don’t feel that its right for you- there are plenty of other avenues to pursue besides academia. If you already have a specific field in mind, you’ll be able to suss out which option is the most viable for your chosen career. And if you haven’t got that bit worked out yet? Try an entry level job and go from there. You can then at least build up some experience and earn money while you figure that out!
If you’re looking to take your first steps into the working world,  email us today at temps@connectionsrec.co.uk or register here.