Liam SammonBy Liam Sammon - on 16 August 2018
Posted in Apprenticeships


Think carefully about post-16 education… sixth form isn’t the only route

Think carefully about post-16 education… sixth form isn’t the only route

Young people have to continue their education until they’re 18 in England and Wales. That’s the law. But what many young people (and their parents) don’t realise is that ‘education’ doesn’t necessarily equal ‘school’. It could just as well mean starting an apprenticeship after GCSEs and heading off on a whole new path.

Continuing education at school is the perfect option for some, but it isn’t the right choice for everyone. The decision to leave education and enter the world of paid work can be a really tricky one. There’s no right or wrong answer, but a lot of people forget there is another way and it’s one that combines the best of both worlds - earning whilst you are learning. 

Apprenticeships do just that. They allow you to ‘earn as you learn’ and get a head start on your career at the same time. High-quality vocational education - like that delivered by JTL – is not a lesser choice. It’s just a different one. Take on an apprenticeship and you’re equipping yourself with the practical skills that employers, businesses and home owners really need. What’s more, starting salaries for electricians and plumbers can be as high as £30,000 and £28,500 respectively. Not a bad beginning to your career! 

Remember, too, that starting an apprenticeship doesn’t mean you wave goodbye to your chances of continuing your studies or even of getting a degree. It might just be that you come to it via a slightly different route. It’s not uncommon for our apprentices to go on and do degrees once they’ve qualified in their trade. So, for example, many of our electrical apprentices later graduate with a degree in electrical engineering. The advantage is that their course has probably been sponsored by their employer, so they’ve escaped the debts that saddle many graduates.

Deciding what you’re going to do after your GCSEs isn’t an easy call. Definitely not. But we’d encourage young people to make their own decisions rather than opt to follow the crowd. The advice our trainers and most careers advisers would give goes something like this. Consider your skills, think about your long-term aspirations and be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Explore all the avenues and keep an open mind.

Take on an apprenticeship with JTL in the building services sector (training to become an electrician or plumber, for example) and you’ll have to continue with some classroom-based learning to complete the theoretical side of the qualification (and to keep your maths and literacy skills up-to-date) – so there’s no escaping the classroom altogether! But you’ll also ‘earn as you learn’ and, four years down the line, you’ll have a really relevant skill that you can use in all sorts of different ways. Many apprentices continue to practice their trades, but others are fast tracked into managerial or associated careers. 

The message is … if you’re of school-leaving age or you’re just feeling disillusioned at the prospect of another two years in school or at sixth form college, don’t rule out an apprenticeship. They’re really rigorous and they’ll test your skills in every area but you’ll emerge well-equipped to find a job in a competitive market place and you’ll have learnt invaluable life and workplace skills along the way too. JTL apprenticeships are available to all, no matter your background, gender or ethnic group.

Take it from the JTL apprenticeship graduates, it’s well worth investigating! To find out more, please go to

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