Apprenticeships or College?

Leaving mainstream education can be the scariest time of a teenager’s life. The comforts which you have often took for granted are snatched from under you, and you are forced to make potentially life moulding decisions.

Knowing exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life at the age of 17 is somewhat of a big ask, which can naturally leave school leavers either unemployed, or making rash decisions which they later regret.

Recently, we have spent time talking to pupils who decided to opt for college enrolment, as well as the others who jumped straight into a work based learning apprenticeship.

The interesting observation we first made, was a large amount of learners expressed the wish to have opted for the other route, although we have not read too much into this. As we all know the grass is not greener on the other side, and the question of ‘what if’ will always stick in the back of a teenagers mind.

The take away information we gained from the research:


  • Great for hands on learners
  • Ideal if you are looking to avoid sitting in a classroom, although supporting work and skills evidence still needs to be completed by the learner
  • Speeds up maturity
  • First-hand experience in the role
  • First-hand experience dealing with your employer
  • Enables you to work as a team in a work environment
  • You receive a nominal salary


  • Further education helps you to focus on expanding your knowledge on the subject area without distraction
  • Ideal if you are not ready for full time employment
  • Aimed for more vocational students
  • Allows extra time to increase your knowledge on the subject area
  • Usually Monday to Friday
  • Term breaks included in your learning

The fact is that both avenues have advantages and disadvantages and choosing wisely at the first time of asking is essential in guiding yourself down the right path. A few questions worth asking before you make your decision:

Are you ready for work?
Do you want to be earning now?
Are you a hands on learner or do prefer assignment based learning?

Answering these questions truthfully will help you to pick the right course first time!

More resources:

Choosing a University or college


Direct Gov Teenager Support


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