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Further Education – What’s the best route for you?

We are presented with many important choices to make throughout our lives, with some starting at a very young age.

One of the biggest decisions a young person can make is how they wish to continue their education. As the available options for further education continue to grow, so do the potential outcomes, each with their own pros and cons.

After GCSEs, you may well be fed up studying or want to leave school and going into full time employment maybe exactly what you want to do. For those who want to continue to learn either by staying at school or going to college, have many things to consider.

What school, college or route am I going to take? What is the right route for me? How do I get on the right path? What is the outcome?

After GCSEs progressing to sixth form or college is often the natural choice, but it isn’t the only choice and it might not be the right choice for you. We are taking a closer look at some of the alternative routes to the standard educational process (GCSEs – A Level – University) and will be highlighting the benefits that they can provide, specifically to those looking to start a career in the engineering sector.

You can expect to find a wide range of comprehensive courses that accommodate individuals looking to further their interest in engineering. Whether it’s an NVQ, BTEC, OCR or apprenticeship, these courses can be immediately beneficial as they offer a variety of qualifications and specialist subjects. The entry requirements to these courses may also vary allowing those with alternative qualifications to apply.

These types of qualifications can be obtained at college or they can be obtained through an apprenticeship. The difference – college is further education usually full time and deliver level 3 qualifications whereas apprenticeships are work based training, delivering various levels of qualifications with the added bonus of getting paid and gaining experience all at the same time.

Both options can deliver the same level of learning (dependent on the qualification), however significant financial benefits can be offered to those choosing an apprenticeship over further education. This is especially prominent when looking at going to university, as you avoid student loans and debt and can enter a paid position, effectively earning as you learn.

The main point here is to weigh up the qualifications v qualifications and experience. We spoke with a number of apprentices, currently working at various companies within the Engineering sector, to get a better insight into their reasons behind choosing an apprenticeship to further their education and the benefits they experienced so far.


“I chose an apprenticeship over University as I know how difficult it is to gain experience, especially paid experience, in engineering and F1. I think this makes it a more valuable use of my time.”

Troy – 19 (Apprentice – equivalent to a first year University student).


“I chose to take an apprenticeship over University as I was looking for something more hands-on and that’s exactly what I got. I also consider working full time and getting paid a more adult option, which is something that appeals to me.”

Ben – 19 (Apprentice – equivalent to a first year University student).


“Lots of my friends chose University and often ask me if I feel like I am missing out. Sure, going out every night is appealing but what you miss out on at university, an apprenticeship makes up for in other places. Such as an instant foot in the door with an amazing company, great finishing qualifications and loads of money”.

Josh – 19 (Apprentice – equivalent to a first year University student).


On top of this, the qualifications gained by these apprentices at the end of their apprenticeships would give them the option and opportunities to further their education at university.

If you are interested in furthering your education with an apprenticeship or course then this table will provide you with an approximate guide to equivalent qualifications based on the level of apprenticeship. However, please note that entry requirements may differ according to the particular sector, profession, employer, apprenticeship level or age.




Apprenticeships and traineeships may not be for you, however our advice to anybody looking and exploring possible routes after school would be to consider everything.

Absolutely weigh up the pros and cons for each route. Speak to different people already in roles or businesses that you see yourself working with/for in the future; get advice from teachers, family and friends. Knowledge is power and with enough information you will make an informed decision.


Posted in: Apprenticeship, Jobs, Job Tips, Guide

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