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GUEST POST: The Further Education Dilemma; Where Do I Go From Here?!

My first guest post is here! It's been a while in the planning, but I'm hoping to have a few guest posts throughout the year, as well as guesting for other people. I love writing and would love to share each other's knowledge on what's facing women and young people today. First up...

Written by an expert Careers Advisor and Work Experience Coordinator with over 15 years experience, Alex is passionate about helping young people achieve their potential, without compromising on imagination! You may have also noticed the surname... yes, she is also my mum!


Careers for women……

Well straight away lets re-name this – careers for all. There is no such thing as a specific career for women, all jobs are available to all people, it is not dependant on your sex. Many jobs that were traditionally thought of as male only (the Marines for example) have realised that women can do just as good a job as men. I long for the day when the best person for the job gets the job, without favour, i.e. not positive or negative discrimination.

The limit of your imagination is the only limit to what you can do in your future, along with the skills to do the job, which come with training.

You obviously need the qualifications to be able to do your chosen job……don’t know what that is yet? You are not alone. Many, even most, people taking their GCSEs do not know what their career will be and that is absolutely fine – please don’t let everyone tell you that you must know what the job is going to be.

Doing your best in every subject you are taking at GCSE will make choosing a career later easier – good grades keep more options on the table and so make it easier to choose later, but to be honest your career might choose you and it might take you a while to get to the ideal job.

Choosing your GCSE subjects; - You will have to take English, Maths and Science, the other subjects you choose to take alongside these at GCSE are up to you. If you know what you want to do in the future you might then know which subject/s will help with this, for example if you know you want to be an architect, taking an art subject will help. Something in medicine - you are already taking science so your other choices will not make a huge impact at this stage. The grades you obtain will make more of an impact, for example if you want to be a doctor you need to be a high achiever, but – if you do not get 8/9s across the board it doesn’t mean you can’t chose these jobs, it might take you a longer to get there and further study.

When you get into year 11 you will be asked to choose again for Year 12/13, this time for A Levels (normally three subjects) at a Sixth form, or BTECs, more usually one subject for your full time education, such as engineering, business, hair and beauty, public services etc. at an FE College. These choices are made around the beginning of year 11 (applications for many 6th forms need to be in before Christmas of that year). You may now know what your career path is to be… may not. Again, do not panic, many people do not know at this stage either.

First question – do you know what your preferred career is going to be?

  • Yes– as a good guide - go onto the UCAS website (just search UCAS) and look up what a degree in that subject is asking for to gain entry – this does not necessarily mean you have to go to Uni, not all jobs ask for a degree (though some still do) but if a university (or three) are looking for a specific A Level course/s or specific BTEC to get into the degree course, an employer is likely to be looking for a similar qualification/s. Apprenticeships are a wonderful way to get into the career of your choice and available up to and including degree level (paid for by your employer – what’s not to like).

  • Apprenticeship– Yes you have to stay in education to 18 now, but this does not mean you have to stay at school/6thform. Especially if you know what you want to do as a career, you can look for and apply for an apprenticeship and train on the job from 16, you can take further higher qualifications after this and go on to the degree apprenticeships mentioned earlier.

  • No– that is still ok – please do not worry. Choose subjects that you love and want to learn more about, that way you will enjoy the next two years and do well at the subjects and achieve the best grades you can which again will allow you to progress and choose later.

Some jobs will need you to do a degree at university to be able to do, for example being a doctor or a teacher, but many others encourage you to go via the apprenticeship route, like engineering for example.


  • Follow your dreams – back have a backup plan.

  • The job you do when you first leave education may well not be the job you are doing in ten years time, you do not have to stay in one job forever.

  • You can re-train at any time.

  • You can take a degree at any time in your life – it does not have to be when you leave full time education. Access courses will help with this if you need a subject you have not taken before.

  • Work life balance needs to be a reality.

  • Enjoy the ride, life is about the journey not the destination, be nice to each other and yourself

  • I know it possibly doesn’t always feel like it but school is something you are lucky to get for free in the UK – grasp every opportunity and do subjects you love/like – this makes study a whole lot easier and doing well keeps those doors of opportunity open.

Now, go conquer the world! Good luck!

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