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Post 16 options

Post 16 Options for Your Teenager


Turning 16 brings lots of trials and tribulations for teenagers and their parents alike. One of the biggest decisions your child will have made to date emerges: What are they going to do after their mandatory time at school ends?


Luckily, there are three strong post-16 options you child can choose from:

  • Full-time education, i.e. college or Sixth Form college
  • An apprenticeship or traineeship (level depending on qualifications gained)
  • Part-time education or training alongside being employed, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more per week.


Of course, there are a number of factors to consider for each option, making some routes more suitable for your child than others. The good news is that what’s on offer for post-16’s right now is a really wide choice, so rest assured that so long as your child is being well informed about all of their options, they’ll certainly find the right fit for them.


We’ve put together a list of the main ‘pros and cons’ for each of these post-16 options to help you to make sure that your child gets the right information and to support them as they make their big decision.



Full-time/Part-time Education



 Does your child currently display most of their strengths in academic disciplines or more vocational work? Both directions can be explored at college on either a full or part-time basis. There are A-Levels and the IB (International Baccalaureate), which, once earned, are the gateway to university further down the line (though that’s obviously not compulsory). There’s also the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma – a relatively new qualification that aims to prepare students for university study.



There are other qualifications available such as a HND, NVQ. These are often in more vocational areas, and provide strong subject knowledge and the chance to develop some more practical skills. Some of these qualifications can also allow your child to be eligible to apply to select relevant university courses. Each university sets their own entry requirements.


Full or part-time education is a tried and tested ‘traditional’ option; your child can go with friends, make new ones and stay at home to attend local schools/colleges. If your child loves learning from teachers and peers and enjoys study, then this could be a good option which will boost their CV with qualifications that open the door to university later on, if that’s what they like.


However, this option isn’t suited to all young people. If your child is raring to leave education and start earning money, or perhaps struggles with full-on study, it may not be quite right.   



An Apprenticeship or Traineeship



Options include an Intermediate Apprenticeship, Advanced Apprenticeship, or Traineeship.


Traineeships are designed to help young people aged 16 to 24 who don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience for the working world. They involve essential work preparation training, English and maths skills and work experience needed to secure an apprenticeship or employment. Traineeships are currently unpaid but usually lead to a paid apprenticeship. You can find out more on the Government’s website.


Offering paid workplace training in an ever-growing number of sectors, some of the UK’s biggest employers already run Intermediate or Advanced Apprenticeships. Your child could pursue one in banking and finance, professional services, law, engineering, mechanics, social and care work or IT, for example. Apprenticeships follow a government framework, allow your child to earn while they learn. Minimum wage for apprentices under 18 is currently £3.30 per hour, though many employers choose to pay more. If your child craves independence and has the confidence to enter work straight away, then this allows for them to take a structured, yet challenging first step into work.


It’s possible that there may not be an apprenticeship available right now in your area in a sector your child is interested in. Relocation may be necessary, and that’s not an option for all 16-year-olds. The pay isn’t incredibly high, although it’s more than they would get if they chose to study full time and it’s a solid first step on the ladder into a career in a certain field. These opportunities can lead to permanent jobs and further training with an employer. And it’s vital workplace experience.





As long as it is for 20 hours or more, volunteering can count as an option. This is a chance for your child to give something back to the community whilst they determine what it is they want to do in the longer term. They’ll have a sense of pride in their work and add something extra to their CV. It can be argued that volunteering may not necessarily ‘lead anywhere’ and it’s obviously unpaid, so realistically this is a short term option.




What next?



ULAS can help your child reach their goals whatever they may be by providing access to opportunities, a CV and personal statement builder and an abundance of information and advice. To access the ULAS platform, your teenager’s school has to be signed up to use it.  If you’d like your teenager to be able to use the tools that ULAS has on offer, just let their teacher know about us and that it is totally free. Alternatively, click here to fill out their teacher or Head of 6th Form’s details and we will get in touch with them ourselves. We know it would be an invaluable resource for your teenager, so please help us spread the word!


Opportunities your child may be interested in: