We are big fans of university – it can allow you to immerse yourself in a subject you enjoy for three years or more, participate in a number of university antics and leave with a qualification which is recognised around the world. You can probably work out that we are also huge fans of school leaver programmes too! They can offer you the chance to kick-start your career, earn a competitive salary and gain excellent qualifications.
There is no right or wrong choice, nor is one better than the other, but it’s important to find the right fit for you. All we ask is that you consider both sides so you can make an informed decision about your future, and this section will certainly help you with this.
Before we go any further, it’s important for us to dispel some common myths that you might have of school leaver programmes…
“School leaver programmes aren’t well-respected”
There are over 300 top employers who offer competitive school leaver programmes with many more joining the school leaver arena each year. With recent changes in higher education, employers noticed a decline in the number of students applying to university and decided to offer an attractive alternative for smart, ambitious students. The ‘rise of the school leaver programme’ has caused a shift in employment, and companies are quickly realising the talent, enthusiasm and fresh ideas younger students can bring to their organisations. They are investing time and money into hiring, training and developing their school leaver work force – this definitely would not be happening if employers did not consider school leaver programmes as a well-respected route. This shift in focus is causing a stir amongst students, parents and teachers – there are more students than ever before opting to go down the school leaver route and an increasing number of teachers and parents are supporting this move too.
“A university degree is your passport to employment whereas a school leaver programme can only get you so far”
There was once a time when you could waltz out of university with a degree and land yourself a first-class job. Unfortunately times have changed, and with over 150,000 graduates entering the job market each year, students are now required to go the extra mile (or two) to get a job when they leave university, and there are many who are still unemployed. The majority of school leaver employers offer reputable professional qualifications as part of their programme (including some employers who run sponsored degree programmes. These professional qualifications are recognised around the world and can be your passport for working not just in the UK but around the globe! In some cases, you could even complete your qualification faster than if you were to go down the university route. You can also make excellent professional connections which will be valuable further down the line if you decided to move jobs.
“School leavers aren’t paid well”
The vast majority of school leaver providers pay their school leavers a competitive salary and they cover the cost of all training and any qualifications they gain, which can be very expensive! Salaries are expected to increase as school leavers progress through the programme and take on more responsibilities which means, you will have money to spend or to put towards buying your first home.
“School leavers miss out on the social life that university provides”
Without doubt university is a lot of fun, but employers recognise that students are giving this up, which is why they often have a dedicated team that looks after social activities for new starters. They will organise away days, team building retreats and regular social events to give you a chance to meet new people, make friends and build that all-important social network.