Making the decision to leave school at 16, 17 or 18 isn't an easy one. The biggest concern for most people is fear of the unknown. What jobs are out there? Which ones am I qualified to do?
Nowadays, there are more jobs for school leavers than ever before. Going to university isn't the only way to get a head-start in your career. Employers now offer a range of job opportunities for school leavers, including apprenticeships, training programmes and internships that enable school leavers to progress in their career quickly.
At Success at School, we have a whole section of our site dedicated to posting the latest jobs for school leavers and training programmes. There are also many jobs for school leavers with no experience.
This guide will help you explore your career options as a school leaver. We've focused specifically on paid work opportunities, however, if you're also considering non-paying work, take a look at our section on volunteering and work experience.
What do you think of when you think about apprenticeships? Apprenticeships used to be geared only towards trades like electricians, plumbers, and mechanics. But these days school leavers can apply for:
- Legal apprenticeships.
- Marketing apprenticeships.
- Engineering apprenticeships.
- Childcare apprenticeships.
- Graphic design apprenticeships.
- Business apprenticeships.
- Sports apprenticeships.
- Digital media apprenticeships.
- Finance apprenticeships.
One of the best things about applying for apprenticeships is that you don't have to give up learning. Almost all apprenticeships programmes offer you the chance to 'earn while you learn' by attending college a few days a week while working. Many apprenticeships provide jobs for school leavers with no experience.
School leaver programmes
Normally organised by large employers, school leaver programmes are specifically aimed at students who have the qualifications to go to university but would prefer to enter into the world or work.
Job opportunities for school leavers can be found over a range of industries, including finance, IT, accountancy, tourism and retail.
Interestingly, a lot of the school leaver jobs offered as programmes are higher apprenticeships that have been re-branded under a new name.
If you want to find out more about these programmes, check out our post What are school leaver programmes?
It's a common misconception that internships are unpaid. Although some are, there are lots of employers that do offer paid internship opportunities. Similar to work experience placements, internships provide you with the opportunity to experience working in a professional career. They typically last between 3 months and 1 year and can sometimes lead to a full-time, permanent position.
Internships can be competitive, so if you plan on applying for one, you'd better have your CV looking its best. You should submit a cover letter alongside your CV and if you're successful, you'll probably be asked to attend an face-to-face interview.
Similar to internships, a work placement lasts for a specified length of time. Unlike internships however, they usually only last 1-2 weeks and typically aren't advertised by employers.
In order to organise a work placement, you'll need to send of CVs and cover letters on your own, targeting companies that you think may be interested in hiring you for a couple of weeks. Some employers won't pay you for a work placement but some larger employers might, or at the very least, cover your travel expenses.
Although not the best long-term solution, a work placement can provide you with a foot in the door and might be worth considering if you're unable to secure a school leaver job elsewhere.
Want to apply for jobs for school leavers? Check out our Jobs & Courses.