Your choices at 16

The different pathways you can choose at 16

Choosing the right pathway for you!

After GCSEs there are three main pathways to choose from and making the decision between the different pathways needs careful thought.

  •  A-Levels - either on their own or in combination with Applied General Qualifications.
  • Apprenticeships - earning while you learn with most of the training on the job with an employer and some time learning at college.
  • Vocational Courses - courses that are job related. These will be focused either on a general area such as business or on a specific job such as hairdressing.

There are also opportunities for young people to work or volunteer for 20 hours a week as long as they are also working towards a qualification - check this out with your school or college.

The pathway you choose will be based on the following:

  • What GCSE grades you have achieved.
  • How you like to learn.
  • Where and what you would like to study later.
  • What job/career you would like in the future.

What you can do to make the right choice

  • Find out about the different careers that interest you - you can take these careers quizzes to find out what jobs might suit you.
  • Get advice from the people who know you (like your parents and teachers) and from those with expertise in this area, such as careers advisers.
  • Look at the qualifications on offer to you in your school and in local colleges and also consider whether an apprenticeship might be a good route for you.
  • If you are interested in a higher-education course at 18/19 or in the future then check out the entry requirements
  • Find out what other people with the qualifications you are interested in have gone on to do. 
  • Look in the Help with Choosing section of Careerpilot to find links to other sites that can help you make the right choice for you.

What is known about the future is


  • You are likely to change jobs many times in your working life as there are few ‘jobs for life’.
  • New jobs are emerging all the time as technology advances.
  • As people retire there will be job opportunities for younger people.
  • The number of jobs requiring higher skills is likely to increase.

With these things in mind, skills like flexibility, problem-solving and teamworking, as well as effective communication and being prepared to learn new things will be as important as focusing on a specific job.

Online Treasure Hunt Competition

Congratulations - you have found Token 1

Token 1
Token 1

Clue 2

Scott is currently in Year 11 and is considering an apprenticeship rather than staying on at school as he is keen to start earning a salary while gaining more qualifications. He has an interest in cars and would like to learn more about the engineering aspect of vehicles. Scott has been told that there are different levels of apprenticeship but doesn't know how much he might be paid. Go to the apprenticeships section of Careerpilot and find out how much apprentices earn, while finding Token 2.

Hi, I'm Scott and I really want to leave school after my GCSEs and earn some money. I love messing about with old cars and going to track days so think that a career in motorsport engineering would be interesting. I'm not sure how much money I would earn and so want to learn more about this.

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