What to do after A-levels? Your career, training and study options

what to do after alevels

Can’t decide what to do after A-levels? Choosing between getting a job or training, study and further education?

Once A-Levels Results Day is done and dusted you are free to try something new. Remember, you are more than your grades. Explore your options, from university to sponsored degrees, school leaver programmes and higher apprenticeships!

Post A-level Options:

Get a job | Be your own boss | Higher Apprenticeships | Sponsored Degrees | Degree Apprenticeships | Further education | School Leaver Programmes | University

Get a job

Once you’ve completed your A-levels (or an equivalent qualification like a BTEC) you can leave school and find a job. If you’re aged 18 or over you can look for jobs without needing to do any more further education or training.

Become a Young Professional

Become a Young Professional

If you’re ready to start job hunting, a great first step is to become a Young Professional with Youth Employment UK. You take the free online video training to become a Young Professional if you’re aged 14-24 (so it’s a great thing to do in the summer holidays if you’re celebrating GCSEs Results Day, too).

It only takes a few minutes to do the Young Professional training. It’s completely free and it looks great on your CV. You will get loads of support to build these five important life and work skills:

Oh, and becoming a Young Professional has one more BIG plus: you’ll get guaranteed job interviews from all participating employers if your CV and experience is a match!

Become a Young Professional

Youth Employment UK has a few more clever ways to help you prepare for job hunting and get stuck in.


Volunteer as a Youth Ambassador

You can volunteer with Youth Employment UK as a Youth Ambassador. Volunteering with us gives you so much more than something great to put on your CV. As well as networking with young people, employers and policy-shaping organisations across the UK, you’ll be kept up to date with some amazing opportunities to make your CV really shine. Our volunteers have written blog posts for national newspapers. They’ve taken part in youth employment events and summits, and gone to Parliament. They’ve even acted as ambassadors abroad. Find out more about volunteering with us and what it can do for your life and career confidence.

Volunteer with us

Jobs and careers help

Our new jobs and careers hub is coming soon. We’ll show you alternative routes to get the jobs you want, job and employment trends so you can see which industries are desperate for young people like you, and so much more. If you haven’t already, join our community as a Youth Member (it’s free) to get alerts on the launch of the new section as well as great opportunities to build your CV and life skills.

Join our Youth Community

Become a Young Entrepreneur

Have you got a great business idea you think could be a success? It’s often a good idea to build some life and work experience so you can experience the business side of things before you take the leap. However, there are plenty of young entrepreneurs out there. Building a business idea is also something you can do while working or training – it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

See more on being a young entrepreneur

Higher Apprenticeships

DID YOU KNOW? You can still do an apprenticeship if you’ve done your A-levels. Apprenticeships come in different levels, and you can do a Higher Apprenticeship if you have A-levels or Level 3 vocational qualifications like an NVQ and you’re not going to university.

A Higher Apprenticeship could be a good next step for you if you don’t want to choose between a job or a degree. You’ll get training (resulting in an industry-recognised qualification) while earning a salary and getting real-life work experience on your CV at the same time.

If this sounds like it could be right for you, explore apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships which can take you from level 4 study onwards. You can even do apprenticeships that result in a full degree-level qualification while you work at the same time.

Yes, you can – it’s called a Higher Apprenticeship. If you have level 3 vocational qualifications or A-levels and you’re not going to university, you can do either an Apprenticeship or a Higher Apprenticeship which would take you from level 4 study right through to getting a full degree while you’re working. With a Higher Apprenticeship there are no degree fees to pay, so it’s a very realistic way to pack in the learning without getting into student debt.

Sponsored Degrees

Many employers offer sponsored degrees – you’ll find them by searching for “sponsored degree programme” online or browsing your dream employer’s careers website.

A sponsored degree is an opportunity to gain work skills AND a degree that is associated with one particular employer. Your resulting skills, knowledge and qualification will be recognised by everyone in the industry.

Do your research, because the structure of a sponsored degree can vary with each employer. With some you might split your week between employment and study (either on campus or through distance learning). With others, you might be a full-time student at a university and work for your employer in the holidays.

The level of financial support on offer can vary too. Some employers might pay a salary and cover your tuition fees, while others might offer you a bursary and paid work placements.

A sponsored degree can be a great way to get a degree qualification, build a deep working relationship with an influential employer, and earn a salary working in your dream industry. It’s worth taking your time to research the employers and sponsored degrees being offered to see which is a good fit for you.

Degree Apprenticeships

Degree apprenticeships are a Government-backed scheme that’s similar to sponsored degrees. With a sponsored degree, you’re working and training with one employer. With a degree apprenticeship, you’re mixing traditional university study and paid work, but the degree apprenticeship is designed by a group of businesses along with the participating universities and colleges.

Your course fees are paid for by the Government and employers so there’s no cost to you, and you’ll gain a bachelors (level 6 qualification) or masters (level 7 qualification) degree as a result.

Degree apprenticeships are available in a range of business areas including engineering, digital, banking/finance and construction.

Find out more about degree apprenticeships on Gov.UK

School Leaver Programmes

All kinds of school leaver programmes are available once you’ve finished level 3 qualifications such as A-levels. Essentially school leaver programmes are a paid training scheme. You’ll work with an employer for a salary, building life and work skills (and the contents of your bank account). You’ll also train towards a qualification, usually a professional vocational qualification that is relevant to your career.

School leaver programmes can vary widely in what exactly they offer in terms of paid training. Some employers refer to their higher apprenticeships and sponsored degrees as school leaver programmes. You can check on an employer’s career website to see their range of school leaver programmes available and decide which is a best fit for your current level of study and experience.

Further Education and College

Once you’ve left school you can take on further education (often called FE) in college. You can study for vocational and competency-based qualifications including awards, certificates and diplomas. These are all industry-recognised qualifications and they are awarded by organisations like City and Guilds, Edexcel (BTEC) and OCR. You can also do higher education (HE) qualifications like HNCs, HNDs, foundation degrees or PGCEs.

If you want to get into an industry, further education can be a great way to get the skills and knowledge along with a valid qualification, and you can often build real-life experience and relationships with employers too, because many courses offer work placements.

Whether you’re interested in business, technology, engineering, sales and marketing, construction, retail, law or pretty much anything else, there’s likely to be a further education course that will take your career to the next step.


You may decide that university is the best next step for you. You can apply for a range of degrees that best suit your interests and level of learning. For example, you can apply for foundation degrees to give you a strong grounding in a particular academic or professional area. You can study for a BA (arts) or BSc (science) degree and decide whether you want to go on to do a masters or perhaps look for jobs or graduate programmes offered by employers once you graduate.

If you do study for a degree, you will need to research location, student fees and the degree modules carefully to find the best fit for you. You will also need to consider entry requirements, to ensure you have studied relevant topics at school and achieved qualifications at a grade which meets entry requirements.

Remember, you are more than your grades. If A-level Results Day didn’t bring you the results you expected or hoped for to get you into your first choice of universities, you can still explore clearing options. You can also explore alternative routes like sponsored degrees or higher apprenticeships.

Some degrees are designed to be a strong launching pad for your entry into a particular career. You can often explore summer work placements with employers while you study, or research sandwich degrees which last a little longer but give you a year of paid work, experience, skills development and relationship building with particular employers.

See more:

Moving On Results Day Guide 2017

For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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