Options and transition after school

Career options after school


Colleges offer a range of academic, vocational, technical and professional courses. Further Education Colleges are attended by people of all ages from 16, although most students are between 16 and 18 years old.

Some colleges are very large, with several sites or campuses and some are specialist, such as those offering agricultural or marine courses.

Further Education Colleges offer courses at every level from entry level courses that do not require GCSE grades at entry through to higher level qualifications and degree courses.

Sixth form

Sixth form refers to school years 12 and 13. Many schools offer a sixth form but there are also sixth form colleges. These offer courses which are designed to follow on from your GCSEs (link opens in a new window).


An apprenticeship is a job, with hands-on experience, a salary and the chance to train while you work. Some of your time is spent in off the job training, often at a college or with a training provider


A traineeship is an education and training programme which incorporates work experience, preparing young people for their future careers by helping them to become ‘work ready’.

A traineeship has three core elements:

  • Work experience placement with an employer.
  • Work preparation training, provided by the training organisation.
  • English and maths support, if required, provided by the training organisation.

Traineeships last anything up to a maximum of 6 months with the content tailored to the needs of the business and the individual.

Employers are not required to pay trainees for the work placement and traineeships are exempt from the Minimum Wage. Young people taking part in traineeships will be undertaking education and training and some may qualify for financial support, including the 16-19 Bursary Fund.

Supported internships

Supported internships are a structured study programme based primarily at an employer. They enable young people aged 16-24 with an Education, Health and Care plan to achieve sustainable paid employment by equipping them with the skills they need for work, through learning in the workplace. Supported internships are unpaid, and last for a minimum of six months.

Wherever possible, they support the young person to move into paid employment at the end of the programme. Alongside their time at the employer, young people complete a personalised study programme which includes the chance to study for relevant substantial qualifications, if appropriate, and English and Maths.


Volunteering is described as an unpaid activity where someone gives their time to help a not-for-profit organisation or an individual who they are not related to. Benefits include making new friends, expanding your network, boosting your social skills and developing new skills.


Employment is a paid work agreement between an employer and an employee. The term employee applies to a person who is hired for a salary or fee to perform work for an employer.