Why I need to make a decision?

You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you will be 16 by the end of the summer holidays but you are still required to remain in education or training until your 18th birthday. There are lots of options available to you and it should be appropriate to your needs.

  • You can stay in full-time education in school, sixth-form or college
  • An apprenticeship can support you to start learning and earning straight away
  • You can also start working or volunteering if you combine this with part-time education or training.

Your choices at 16

You need to stay in education or training after you are 16, but how you do this is up to you. Further Education includes any study after secondary education that is not part of higher education – is not studied as part of an undergraduate or graduate degree.

There are lots of choices and you need to pick the one that will help you get the future you want.


Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study. If you have a career sector or path in mind and want to start earning money as you learn, an apprenticeship could be for you. You will do a real job for a real employer, training on the job and working towards an industry-standard qualification.

An apprenticeship combines hands-on work with the opportunity to train and obtain qualifications. Apprenticeships, which must last for a minimum of 12 months are open to anyone aged 16 and over who is not in full-time education, there is no upper age limit! Apprenticeships take 1 to 5 years to complete depending on their level.

As an apprentice you will:

  • be an employee and earn a salary while you learn – Find out more about earning a wage and getting holiday pay on GOV.UK.
  • work alongside experienced staff and gain job-specific skills, progressing your career and achieving sought-after qualifications
  • get time for training and study related to your role (at least 20% of your normal working hours)
  • get paid holidays

There are hundreds of different apprenticeships to choose from. Apprenticeships follow one of 15 technical routes to skilled employment. Each route shares a range of occupationally related skills and knowledge and underpin all technical education, apprenticeships and T-Levels:

  • Agriculture, environmental and animal care
  • Business and Administration
  • Care services
  • Catering and hospitality
  • Construction
  • Creative and design
  • Digital
  • Education and childcare
  • Engineering and manufacturing
  • Hair and Beauty
  • Health and science
  • Legal, finance and accounting
  • Protective services
  • Sales, marketing and procurement
  • Transport and logistics

Search Apprenticeship Vacancies

Current Apprenticeship Vacancies through Colleges


T Levels are:

  • a nationally-recognised 2-year qualification that you can do as an alternative to A levels, other post-16 courses or an apprenticeship, that is worth the same number of UCAS points as 3 A levels.
  • 80% of your time in the classroom and 20% on a 45-day placement with an employer placement allowing you to have a real experience of the workplace alongside your studies.

If you feel you are not ready for a T Level there is a T Level Transition Programme which is a 1-year post-GCSE course designed to prepare you for your chosen T Level. It will give you knowledge, practical and study skills, and work experience to excel in your subject.

Find out more from this document on GOV.UK – T Level Transition Programme Guide for Students or visit their T Levels website

Find your nearest T-Level here


Look for a college that offers the courses, subjects and the best route to the career you are interested in. You will be expected to manage your own work and time effectively at a college, they are bigger and less formal than sixth forms.

If you have special educational needs or other support needs, you will need to talk to your provider to ensure they can support your needs.

For more information on other further education courses visit GOV.UK

Sixth Form

The term ‘Sixth Form’ describes the school years numbered 12 and 13. Sixth forms tend to be smaller and offer more structure and student support than colleges.

Somerset has 8 secondary schools with sixth forms which are able to provide education for 16 to 18-year-olds in years 12 and 13. The provision offered will depend on the Sixth Form. Find a school with a sixth form here by using the directory filter.[/accordion]


Volunteering is a fantastic way to boost your skills and giving back to a community can really grow your confidence. Plus it looks great on a CV! There are lots of volunteering opportunities from working with children, animals, supporting a local hospital or volunteering with national and international charities.

Work Experience whether you go and spend a day, a week or a fortnight at an employer you will gain valuable skills. Not only will you learn the ways of the business world and what different environments are like, you will also get the chance to put your young professional skills into practice.

Working with part-time education or training

Part-time work – do not underestimate the power of a Saturday job, of waitressing or even helping parents in their businesses. All work looks good on a CV and can boost your skills.

Employment at 16 and over

This section has information on becoming work ready, what opportunities you could consider and links to local vacancies.

Careers related resources

It is very important that you make an appointment to discuss your plans with your careers adviser even if you do not know what your chosen career is (most young people don’t!)

Deciding on what you want to do for work can be confusing, here are some more resources to help you explore your career options.

Looking for employment

The prospect of looking for employment can be incredibly daunting for anyone, but it’s especially hard if you have never had a job before. How do you find out what employers expect from you as a candidate? How do you write a CV? And how should you get ready for a job interview. If you are thinking about your future career, applying for work experience, an apprenticeship or you’re just considering finding a part-time job to earn money while you study, this guide on the Somerset in Care Council website is for you.

Explore your choices whether you know where you are headed in the future or not. Knowing the work and study choices available to you is a great place to start. Visit the National Careers Service – Explore Careers to explore all your education and training options.

A few useful links to help you find employment

Job Search Engines

How much do careers pay?

Careerometer can be used to explore and compare key information about occupations, help you learn about different occupations and identify potential careers. It provides access to a selection of UK headline data relating to pay, weekly hours of work and future employment prospects for different occupations, as well as description of the occupation.

Simply type in the title of the job you are interested in and the widget provides a series of options from which you can select the most relevant to you. You can then look up another two occupations and compare. You can also select ‘display the UK average’ and compare the information with the occupation you have selected.

Visit Careerometer – LMI For All for more information.

Last reviewed: April 29, 2024 by Adam

Next review due: October 29, 2024

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