A Level School Leaver Options and Opportunities

If you’re in a muddle about what route you want to take, whether that’s university, employment or vocational education, this page will help you decide what is the best route to take for you.

What can I do with my A Levels?

A lot of people think that the only route to go down after completing your A-Level’s is to go to University, but do not worry if this is not for you, there are many other options available. 

Option 1: University

If you are wanting to go to university you will need to do plenty of research into the degree courses and universities on offer, to ensure you choose the correct one which tallies with your interests and career plans. There are plenty of people on the Island who can help you choose what course is right for you from your school, to the careers advisor who visits all the secondary schools on the Island. To find out more about careers guidance for schools leaves see the resources section at the bottom of the screen. 

On average, graduates tend to get higher starting salaries and earn more over their lifetime.

Option 2: Gap Year

If you’re a bit unsure about your options, or just fancy some breathing space, a gap year might be right for you.

A gap year is not to be taken as a year to kick back and relax before you start work or go to university, you won’t impress many people doing that. The most common route taken in a gap year is to work for a bit and then go travelling. Many of the large companies, such as KPMG, Bank of England and IBM have gap year programmes for those wishing to get in a solid year of work experience. Alternatively, you might want to volunteer in the UK or abroad, or use your time off to get plenty of work experience. This may even help you figure out which careers might interest you.

The key thing, if you do decide to do a gap year, is to make sure you do something worthwhile. Some universities and employers won’t look favourably on gap years where you’ve just spent your entire time in the clubs of South America. Try and make sure you’ve included some more valuable experiences in your gap year, as well as partying.

Option 3: School Leaver Programme

If you want to start work straight after your A Levels, but still want to gain some serious qualifications, then a school leaver programme might be the thing for you. These schemes usually involve studying for a degree or professional qualification, whilst working for a company. As an employee, you’ll get a wage and they’ll cover your training costs.

School leaver programmes are designed to offer a genuine alternative to university. Entry onto a scheme can be very competitive. The big finance and accountancy firms dominate the school leaver programme market at the moment, but other opportunities can be found in industries like engineering, IT, retail, digital media and hospitality. Bear in mind, school leaver programmes are still relatively new and therefore aren’t common in most industries.

Option 4: Higher Apprenticeship

There is something else you can do with those A Levels, and that’s a Higher Apprenticeship.

You can also get qualifications like foundation degrees, HNDs and undergraduate degrees as part of a Higher Apprenticeship. Apprentices can usually top up their qualifications after the apprenticeship too.

Don’t just think about the short term. Try and imagine where you want to be in five or ten years, and figure out the best way to get there.

Resources

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In collaboration with Departments of the Isle of Man Government