Young People

Other options to get ahead

Happiness and success can be found in many different ways. Sometimes it can seem like formal education is the only route, but that is not true. No route is automatically better than the other, the thing that matters most is that it fits you and your life. Here you will find some guidance and advice on other options that you may want to consider

Further education does not suit everyone. We all learn differently and have different interests. There are many fields and professions that do not require a degree, though it can be harder to find information on them. Sometimes it can feel that there is only one way to success and it is normal to feel that pressure. However, the more careful you think about your options the happier you will be with your decision. You know yourself best and what is best for you. Do not feel pressured to take up a course or start training for the sake of it, or because your mates are doing it. You might have heard of FOMO before, the fear of missing out. It can happen when it feels like everyone is doing something in their life and you maybe do not know where to start. But rest assured, that the majority of people struggled in early adulthood and that trying and failing are normal parts of life. You do not need to know what it is you want to do – many people do not until later in life. Whatever your circumstances, there are lots of opportunities and options available to you. If you are unsure about what you want to do or where to start you should have a think about the things you are passionate about and start from there. If you are comfortable with your care experienced identity, there are lots of provisions and opportunities out there to support you and help you get ahead.

What is available to you depends on your age, circumstances and local authority. If you're aged 16 to 19 and not currently in employment, education or training, you’re guaranteed an offer of a place in learning or training through the Scottish Government's Opportunities for All initiative. If you have ever been or are currently in care then you'll be supported up until the age of 26. You should also be supported with a pathways plan during this time to best support you in the next stage in your life – you can ask for this to be updated by your local authority so that it reflects what your needs and desires.

One way to gain experience and try new things is to volunteer. Volunteering can be hugely beneficial for you and for others. Finding a placement that suits you is important – if you are giving up your free time you will want to enjoy what you are doing. You can contact different organisations and institutions that reflect your interests and ask about volunteering opportunities. The benefits of volunteering are:

  • Experience – gain experience in a field that interests you or try something different.
  • Contacts – you will meet lots of people and can help you build a network.
  • Flexible – You can decide how many hours of your time to give to suit you.

If you are receiving benefits, volunteering does not affect them. Volunteering can be a great way to gain experience and meet new people and gain some skills in a field you are interested in.

Apprenticeships are another option. There are a lot of apprenticeships available in a variety of areas. Some apprenticeships are specifically for care leavers. The benefits of apprenticeships are:

  • Paid – apprenticeships are usually paid.
  • Experience – you learn while you work, gaining skills and experience.
  • Qualification – you will receive qualification(s).

Apprenticeships may affect your benefit entitlements depending on the pay and hours. There are also other ways to learn outside of traditional routes. Youth achievement awards, duke of Edinburgh and sports leaders UK awards are all recognised qualifications. There are also programmes offered by the NHS, Police and Fire service that you can gain qualifications through. The best place to start is to think about what field you are interested in and finding opportunities in that field.

There is a lot of information in this guide and in others, it can be overwhelming to see it all at once. It is okay if you do not know where to start. Very often a good way to explore options is to sleep over it and talk to someone else about their career path. When you are ready to explore more, you can check out the links below.

For more information on the care leavers covenant click here.

For more information and to find apprenticeships you can search here.

You can find further advice and opportunities here.

Volunteer Scotland is a great place to look for volunteering opportunities.

More opportunities and advice can be found here.

For other awards and qualification you can search here.

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