Post-18 Options

There are many options to choose from at 18. What’s right for you will depend on your situation and the career or job you have in mind. 

You may be eligible for the  16 to 19 Bursary Fund, which can help with things like books, travel or equipment if you will struggle with education or training costs.

If you have an  Education Health and Care (EHC) plan there may be different and more suitable options available to you.

You can find out about financial support for university from  Student Finance.

Combine work and study

Improve your skills and get work experience. Some options allow you to earn while you learn. Spend time in a real workplace while working towards a qualification that employers need.

Continue your studies

You may need to improve your results before taking your next step. You could do a course that gives you time to explore your options or get a work-related qualification.

If you want to move on to a higher level of learning, you could study at a  university, college,  Institute of Technology (IoT) or a National College. There are opportunities to learn online as well as to study part- time.

Get straight into work

Earn a wage, try out a job and start networking. You could even get the skills to start your own business.

You may also want to take a  gap year before continuing with your studies or getting into work.

Combine Work and Study


Description: A course that includes a work placement that will get you ready for an apprenticeship or a job. You’ll get work experience and some help to apply for your next steps. You can also improve your maths and English skills. You’ll get work experience and some help to apply for whatever you do next.

Location: You’ll spend a minimum of 70 hours in a work placement with the rest of your time in college or a training centre

Duration: 6 weeks to 1 year

Entry requirements:  You need to be aged between 16 to 24 or up to 25 with an  Education Health and Care Plan with no higher than a  level 3 qualification

Qualifications: English, maths, digital and work-related qualifications

Leads to: Apprenticeship, further education, work

Find out more:

  • ask your local college or training provider
  • speak to your school careers adviser
  • speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser if you receive benefits
  • find a traineeship in your area 

Supported internships

Description: Supported internships are for young people with learning difficulties or learning disabilities, who need extra support to get a job.

Location: You’ll spend most of your time on placements with an employer, learning skills for work. You’ll also get help from a tutor and a job coach in college or with a specialist provider.

Duration: A minimum of 6 months

Entry requirements: Aged 16-24 with an  Education Health and Care Plan

Qualifications: GCSE English and maths

Leads to: Work, traineeship, apprenticeship

Find out more:

  • from your school or local college
  • speak to your social worker or a transition worker
  • speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser 


Description: Intermediate, advanced higher and degree apprenticeships combine practical on-the-job skills training with off-the-job learning. You’ll get training that is relevant to your job and be paid a salary. Start at a level to suit you, with support if you have special needs or a disability.

Location: You’ll spend 80% of your time in the workplace and 20% off-the-job with some study in a college, training centre or Institute of Technology (IoT)

Duration: A minimum of 1 year

Entry requirements:  Will be dependent on the industry, job role and apprenticeship level

Qualifications: apprenticeship certificate, diploma, degree and masters depending on level

Leads to: Work, next level of apprenticeship, further education, higher education

Find out more: information about Apprenticeships 

School leaver schemes

Description: A chance to learn and train with a large company while earning a wage. Offered in sectors like accountancy, engineering, finance, IT, law, leisure and retail. Similar to graduate employment schemes run over a longer period of time.

Location: You’ll often rotate between different locations with the same company to get experience and it can include distance learning or time in college or university

Duration: 3 to 7 years

Entry requirements: Usually high grade A levels or equivalent and a keen interest in the sector you want to work in

Qualifications: A university degree and/or professional qualification

Leads to: Professional employment

Find out more: Directly from company websites 


Continue Your Studies

Exam retakes

Description: If you didn’t get the results you wanted, you can resit some of your courses or sign up for some new qualifications.

Location: School sixth form, sixth form college or further education college

Duration: 1 year

Entry requirements: 16+

Qualifications:  Level 2 and 3 qualifications like GCSE, A level and BTEC

Leads to: Higher level or degree apprenticeship, further education, higher education, work

Find out more: Speak to your school or college careers leader or careers adviser or our careers advisers 

1 year funded course for ages 18 to 19

Description: If you can’t access work or work-based training in September 2020, you can take a free course to gain work related or technical skills needed by employers. Subjects include engineering, construction, health and social care, and ICT. You can also resit maths and English GCSE if you do not already have a grade 4 or above.

Location: With a college or training provider

Duration: Up to 1 year

Entry requirements: Age 18-19

Qualifications: Level 2 and 3 high value qualifications needed for specific employment sectors

Leads to: Work, higher level or degree apprenticeship

Find out more: By calling our advisers or speaking to your local provider 

Higher technical skills courses

Description: Learn the higher level skills that employers want in sectors like finance, engineering, management and scientific jobs on a classroom-taught course.

Location: College or university, some of which specialise in subjects as part of an Institute of Technology or National College

Duration: 1 to 2 years

Entry requirements: Varies by course

Qualifications: Higher Nationals (HNC/Ds), foundation degrees, certificate/diploma of higher education and various other technical qualifications

Leads to: Skilled employment in higher technical job or higher levels of study

Find out more: By calling our advisers or speaking to your local provider 

University degree

Description: An academic course that’s usually studied at a higher education institution. Learn through lectures, seminars, group projects and independent study. There’s  funding available to support you and you can study full or part- time.

Location: At a university, college or online. You could go away to study, stay local or go abroad.

Duration: 3 to 4 years

Entry requirements: Universities set their own entry requirements. You’ll usually need A Levels or equivalent qualifications

Qualifications: Ordinary or honours degree

Leads to: Postgraduate taught or research degrees, professional qualifications, graduate employment

Find out more:  UCAS information about undergraduate degrees

Get Straight Into Work


Description: A period of work experience where you can try out a job and get to know an industry.

Location: Workplace

Duration: 1 week to 1 year

Entry requirements: Age 16+

Qualifications: N/A

Leads to: Work, university/college, traineeships, apprenticeship

Find out more:  Information about internships 

Start a business

Description: Becoming an entrepreneur can be exciting, but think carefully about your ideas and make a solid business plan.

Location: Likely to start at home or shared office

Duration: N/A

Entry requirements: You may need special skills, qualifications or experience before you can start a business. There may also be start-up costs.

Qualifications: N/A

Leads to: Work

Find out more:  Information about setting up a business 

Get a kickstart job

Description: Get a 6 month paid Kickstart job with a local employer funded by the Government.

Location: Workplace or from home

Duration: 6 months

Entry requirements: Must be aged 16 to 24, in receipt of Universal Credit and at risk of long term unemployment.

Qualifications: N/A

Leads to: A stronger CV and better chance of securing your next job

Find out more: Talk to your Universal Credit Work Coach or check the  jobhelp site 

Get a job

Description: Get straight into the working world to start earning. You’ll need an up-to-date  CV and  cover letter.

Location: Workplace or from home

Duration: Dependent on job offer

Entry requirements: Requirements differ between employers. You may need qualifications or experience for some jobs.

Qualifications: N/A

Leads to: Work

Find out more:  Search for vacancies and advice on applying for jobs