A levels are qualifications which tend to focus upon academic subjects but may also include work-related activity. Most people take three or four A levels which can be a mix across the traditional maths/science/english/humanities paradigm.
When choosing A levels you should choose the subjects you enjoy, however it is also important to consider the impact they may have on acceptance of a university subject choice (if this is something you are considering). Some University courses require you to have taken specific A level subjects in order to fulfil their entry requirements. When choosing you’re a levels it is worth researching the subject recommendations for the potential courses you may take at University.
Doing an apprenticeship allows you the opportunity to learn, ‘earn’ and gain real-life work experience. You will be expected to attend college or a training centre during your apprenticeship to build skills outside of the workplace environment and complement your personal progression in that field of work.
During your placement you’ll be expected to work a minimum of 30 hours per a week over a completion period of one to four years (duration depends upon the specific apprenticeship programme).
Apprenticeships are not limited to engineering or construction trades but can be found across most work fields or areas. In addition, you can now complete a Bachelors of Masters degree through an apprenticeship programme.
There are four different types or levels:
- Intermediate - roughly equivalent to five good GCSE passes
- Advanced - equivalent to two A level passes
- Higher - equivalent to the first stages of higher education such as a foundation degree
- Degree - comparable to a Bachelors or Masters degree
The current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £4.81 per hour. This rate applies to apprentices under the age of 18 and those that are in their first year of their apprenticeship. For those between the age of 18 – 20 its £6.83 and £9.18 for those between 21 and 22 years. The minimum apprenticeship wage for those of 23 and over is £9.50. Some employers can choose to pay an apprentice a higher wage, and some higher level apprenticeships have salaries of £20,000 and up.
Like an apprenticeship this form of development combines learning with the world of work. Traineeships are designed to support the transition into an apprenticeship or job. Usually those who participate in a traineeship don’t have key skills in English or maths. The traineeship is designed to build these skills and provide individuals with work experience alongside. The duration of a traineeship is shorter than the usual apprenticeship and could last up to a maximum of six months.
Importantly, traineeships could also be unpaid – at the discretion of the employer and are not bound by minimum wage requirements. There is a 16-19 year old bursary fund available, further information on this fund can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/1619-bursary-fund.
National vocational qualifications include practical work-related tasks and are available in subjects ranging from plumbing to hairdressing. This form of qualification can be studied in a college or workplace and are the best option if you know what job you’d like to do.
There are five levels of NVQ and you do not need to start at level one, you can select the level that suits you and then work your way up the NVQ scale.
Vocational and Technical Courses
Vocational and technical courses are work related qualifications and broader in terms of subject. Such courses are best for young people who are interested in working within a particular industry but not 100% certain. A vocational and technical course tends to relate to a subject area such as: art and design or business and IT but contains work-based elements also.
Subject specific information about vocational and technical content can be found through the college websites in the profile of the course you are interested in. Further information on this form of qualification can be found in the downloads below.
T Levels were designed with leading businesses and are now supported by employers of all sizes to give students the workplace skills they need to succeed. T levels combine classroom learning with industry placements to prepare you for skilled work or higher level study. One T Level is the equivalent of three A levels.
Hundreds of employers – including Lloyds Banking Group, Nestlé, Yorkshire Water, Persimmon Homes and NHS Trusts across England – have hosted T Level students on industry placements.
Many employers retain T Level students on completion of their course and support progression within their business onto an apprenticeship or into another role.
T levels for students