Choosing the right path for your future

It’s the beginning of a whole new chapter of your life – you’re deciding what to do after you leave school or college.

It might feel like it’s still a long way off but it will be here before you know it, so it now is the time to give some serious thought.

You could apply to university, find an apprenticeship, go on a gap year, take on an apprenticeship or start your working career.

The world really is your oyster.

For some of you, the decision might be easy because perhaps you’ve always known that you want to be a doctor, plumber or architect.

For the rest of you it might seem more than a little mind-boggling deciding what it is you want to do with the rest of your lives.

But there are ways to make it seem less daunting which start with approaching it positively and with an open mind.

Considering what you are good at and what you are interested in can be a good place to start.

Always aim to do something you will love because there is no point wasting time and money on something you will not be passionate about.

Higher education continues to be a popular choice for school-leavers whether it’s university or more vocational courses such as Higher National Diplomas (HNDs).

If you opt to work towards a degree, you can go down the academic route or pick a course more closely connected to your dream job.

There is evidence that graduates go on to have higher earning potential and have a greater choice of jobs.

University also helps you to develop life-long skills.

For some careers, higher education is a must so don’t discount it without looking into what qualifications are expected for your chosen industry. Vocational courses can give you more hands-on experience and can be a quicker route into work. 

If you feel ready for the workplace, then an apprenticeship may be the best fit. These are becoming more and more popular with an increasing number of opportunities available every year – so don’t discard these either without giving them serious consideration.

They give you the chance to be paid while you are trained on the job and are working towards industry-specific qualifications so they might be a more direct route to the career you want.

Employers are keen to recruit apprentices who they can train to develop the necessary skills for their industry and in certain industries they are in high demand due to ageing workforces.

Higher and degree apprenticeships are available for more than 100 different job roles across around 75 industries.

But some of you may not yet feel ready to start higher education or work and may opt to take a break from your studies. 

You might fancy the chance to take on a different challenge, and if so then a gap year is a worthwhile consideration.

This can be an opportunity to travel, learn new skills or earn valuable work experience that can really benefit you later in life.

So, there are many paths to consider when you are deciding what next