Apprenticeships or full-time study: what's right for you?

Often choosing what to do next can be a difficult choice.We've outlined some of the options available to you but the important thing for you to do is take your time and talk through your options to help make a good decision.

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Studying full-time after your GCSE's

You can study full time courses at your school’s sixth form (if it has one) or at a local training provider. A-levels are popular but there are also many other qualifications you can achieve including BTEC’s, NVQ’s and Diploma’s that often link to professional qualifications.

Studying for your qualifications will be very different to what you are used to at school. Focus is placed on independent study which will give you more responsibility and you will be treated more like an adult. If you are clear on the career path you wish to take, a vocational qualification may be the best route for you. If you are less sure of what you might like to do or are keen to go University then an A-Levels may be more suitable.

When picking your full time course try to think about what will be important to study for your future career. For example; science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects are really useful for entering the seven sectors that we showcase on this website.


Apprenticeships are paid periods of training that allow apprentices to learn a particular skill or set of skills, through a combination of hands-on work and study or training. Apprenticeships can last anywhere between one to five years and are a great way to get practical experience before you begin your career.

The levels range from 2 - 6; higher level apprenticeships (levels five and six) are the equivalent of a University degree. At the end of each level, you’ll receive a nationally recognised qualification too.

They aren’t just for those interested in construction or engineering; there are apprenticeship opportunities in almost every industry from financial & related services to IT or Care. Apprentices could find themselves working in any sized company so the work will always be unique.

You can find out more information about apprenticeships by visiting


Study full time at university

After you have completed your A-levels or completed an apprenticeship you could go on to university where you can study for a degree qualification. Universities now also offer degree apprenticeships and other qualifications.

While a degree isn’t always necessary to get a job, it can act as a way to access many specialist jobs that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to pursue. For example, it would be impossible to become a doctor without the appropriate education.

Going to University can seem a quite a daunting prospect, for many people it will be there first experience of living away from home and, as with studying at college, you will be expected to take the initiative to independently study. This shouldn't put you off though, living away from home can be an amazing experience and if you really are worried about missing your friends and family you can always choose to study closer to home in one of Essex's Universities.

Universities offer a huge range of different subjects to study and therefore you should really take your time choosing what is right for you and what will help you to achieve your career ambitions.

If you want to find out more about what to expect at university this article from 'Which' might help... 'What to expect in your first university term.

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