If you are aged 16-18, then you must remain in education or training. This could be your school sixth form, a further education college or an apprenticeship. Your choices are wide and varied. So here goes, let's consider the options.
If you are considering this option then think about your personal skills and qualities. What do you like doing? Do you like working with children? Are you practical and good with your hands? Have you got excellent computing skills? Do you like meeting people and working with others?
Thinking about this will help you choose a course that you enjoy and give you a better chance of sticking to it and gaining your qualification. Don't forget that parents and carers know you pretty well, so talking to them may help you to see qualities and skills you had not considered.You can speak to a careers advisor who can help you consider your options you may not even know exist.
Once you have an idea of what you would like to do, then research colleges, sixth forms and training providers that offer the type of course you want. Remember to check location and make sure you can travel there with ease and afford the transport costs. Find out the registration process and any other procedures and requirements. You can then make your final decision and enrol for your course.
However, if you don’t want to be in an educational organisation then an apprenticeship may be the way forward. They offer on-the-job training with a company where you start working and spend some limited time with a training provider to gain a qualification.
You get paid when you are on an apprenticeship which means you don’t have the expense of going to university and related costs. Wages can range from £80 - £300+ per week, depending on requirements and level of the apprenticeship. The length of an apprenticeship can vary from 12 months to 6 years.
If there is a job that exists, it is likely that there may be an apprenticeship being offered. Some apprenticeships require no formal qualification and will give you the opportunity to gain a Level 2 qualification which is the equivalent to GCSEs. You will need to take Maths and English Functional Skills, if you do not already have GCSEs grade C or above in these subjects.
Intermediate and Higher Level apprenticeships generally require you to have Maths and English GCSEs at grade C or above. However, it is worth applying even if you don’t as the opportunity to gain these whilst working is possible.
There are now many Higher Level Apprenticeships available if you have good GCSEs and A Levels. Companies such as Rolls Royce offer a Space Engineering apprenticeship, Goldman Sachs (global investment bank) and Royal Bank of Scotland offer degree level apprenticeships in IT, and PWC (global accounting firm) offer programmes in Tax and Accounting through to Consultancy. There are many more and offer an excellent alternative to university.
There are an increasing number of Social Media Marketing roles available, so that Facebook page you set up and Instagram following you’ve developed may provide a job opportunity you had not expected.
Register with The National Apprenticeship Service at https://www.getingofar.gov.uk/ to find out more.
Put together a strong CV and cover letter. This is a MUST. Your CV and cover letter are your first introduction to a prospective employer. Consider your skills and how they match up to the role for which you want to apply. Tailor your CV to each specific application. You may wish to have a 2 or 3 CVs that highlight different skills, if you are applying for varied jobs. For example, one that focuses on customer service and another that focus on IT, if you are looking at both retail and IT entry level roles. Take a look at http://www.crea8ingcareers.com/cvpersonal-statements.html
Contact recruitment agencies, search online, look in newspapers, speak to friends and family, and visit businesses in person. Many places now have an online application, so you may be able to apply directly. You can use your CV to help answering questions but always think to yourself, “What are they trying to find out from this question?” and “What does my answer say about me?”.
Using your gap year effectively can offer real benefit afterwards when looking for work, applying for university, taking an apprenticeship or setting up your own business. The experience you gain can be invaluable.
Travelling can be an expensive option, so you may consider working to save up and pay for your adventure. There are many organisations that offer gap year experiences and the costs vary widely. Think about travel and living costs if you are planning on going abroad. You may require a visa, work permit, and/or a sponsor. Consider the language, culture, rules and laws of your chosen destination and remember you also want to have fun!
Organisations such as Prince’s Trust offer support to young people looking to start their own business. It is hard work, you may end up working many more hours than in a standard job and not earn as much at first, but it will allow you to follow your passion, be in charge of your work and may make you a lot of money in the long run.
So, will you be the next Richard Branson or Jamal Edwards?