What will you do next after your exams?

IT’S never too early to start thinking about what you want to do when you’ve finished your GCSEs.


And with so many different opportunities depending on your skills, interests or chosen career path – the world really is your oyster.


When it comes to considering the next chapter in your learning, look at the pros and cons of each of the options available to you.


You might decide to stay on to study A-levels in your school’s sixth form, go to college for vocational training or start an apprenticeship.


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.


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. If you enjoy learning and want to continue your education in a familiar environment, then A-levels are the most traditional route to university and take two years to complete.


If you fancy doing something a little more vocational, then there are plenty of other qualifications you can look into such as NVQs and BTECs.


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.


When it comes to looking at your options for when you’re 18, 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 that will come in handy in all kinds of different jobs and industries. For some careers, higher education is a must, so don’t discount it without looking into what qualifications are expected for your chosen profession because you don’t want to be disappointed later. Research is key.


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 are well worth some 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. So, there are many paths to consider when you are deciding what next.