Choices at Post 16

Choices at Post 16

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What are they?

A real job with high quality training and progression.

Equivalent to 3 A Levels, a T level prepares you for your chosen career route.

Pre-Apprenticeship training and employability support.

A real job for 6 months with support to help you progress into permanent work.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

Vocational and technical alternatives to A Levels.

The academic option.


We love apprenticeships! They are a starting point for every profession and career route you can think of. From a Level 2 Apprenticeship which will introduce you to an ‘Occupation route’ right through to a degree apprenticeship that will fund your university degree and pay you all the way!

You want to carry on to sixth form – but you’re not sure about A levels – or you already know which field you want to work in – then check out T levels. A new Level 3 technical qualification, based on the same occupational routes as Apprenticeships, you will develop knowledge and skills that are required for an individual occupation and will undertake a substantial work placement.

If you’re not quite ready for an apprenticeship, check out Traineeships. These are designed for young people who want to get an apprenticeship or go straight into a job but don’t yet have the right skills or experience. A mixture of classroom based training and an unpaid work placement, they help you develop workplace skills and experience, in preparation for future opportunities. 

A new initiative for those that want to be in work. You’ll be offered a 6 month, paid placement and you’ll get some coaching and support to help you find future employment. You must be claiming Universal Credit to be eligible for this scheme.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

The most recognised VTQ is BTEC but there are many others such as City and Guilds and OCR. These qualifications provide practical ‘hands on’ experience to develop the practical knowledge and skills that employers want. As a full-time student you would take a Level 3 diploma or extended diploma – equivalent to 2 or 3 A Levels. But there are also many part time options you could think about.

Not everyone wants to start work. If you’ve enjoyed school and want to study academic subjects in more depth than at GCSE (Level 2),then A levels (Level 3)are a good choice for you.

Work or College Based

Work based – but you may attend college for some of your training

College based, but a significant period of time with an employer

A mixture – some college based training, but a significant amount of time in the workplace

Work based

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

College based

School or College based

Age and Eligibility


Anyone aged 16 or over can become an apprentice – there’s no upper age limit.  There may be some specific entry requirements for individual apprenticeships.  


T Levels are for 6th form students aged 16 – 18. The requirements for studying a T level vary by course and by college but generally students need at least 5 GCSE’s at grade 4 including maths and English. T levels are being introduced gradually – not all subjects are ready yet and not all colleges are delivering them


Traineeships are open to anyone aged 16-24 that isn’t qualified above Level 3 (ie A levles)  


Kickstart is for those aged 16 to 24 who are currently out of work, and claiming Universal Credit.  Your Job Centre will tell you whether you are eligible. This scheme is expected to run until the end of 2021.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

The requirements for studying a Level 3 VTQ vary by course and by college but generally students need at least 5 GCSE’s at grade 4 including maths and English

The general requirements for studying A Levels are to have at least 5 GCSEs at Grade 4 including maths and English, and at least a grade 5 in the subjects chosen for study.


> 12 months

At least 12 months, depending on the apprenticeship and the experience of the apprentice. 

2 years

2 years (there is also an optional 1-year transition programme for students to prepare for T Levels)

6 weeks to 12 months

Between 6 weeks and 12 months depending on the organisation that runs them.

6 months

All placements are for 6 months

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

Most commonly 2 years

There’s a huge range of VTQs ranging from short courses of a couple of weeks to those that take several years to complete. The most common VTQs for those aged 16 – 18 are Level 3 Diplomas which take 2 years. 

2 years

2 years

Training Content

At least 20% of an apprentice’s normal working hours, must be spent on off-the-job training (OJT) that covers the knowledge, skills and behaviours of the apprenticeship. This could be at the workplace or it can include regular day release or block release to a college or university as well as special training days and workshops.

Classroom based work will cover both theory, knowledge and the development of the practical skills required to actually undertake a job in a chosen subject area. These skills will then be applied on the work placement.

Before the placement you will get training to prepare you for work, including CV writing and what to expect in the workplace. You will receive in-work training to develop transferable skills to increase your chances of long term, permanent employment.

There will be support to improve your English, maths and digital skills if you need it.

You will receive support from coaches who will help you prepare for the placement and keep you on track. You may be offered additional training dependent on the employer you are working for.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

VTQs  are designed for young people interested in a particular sector or industry but who are not yet sure exactly what job they’d like to do.The classroom based training combines practical learning with subject and theory content.

A levels are school or college based academic courses where you will study a subject in depth.

Extra support in Maths, English and Digital Skills for those that need it





Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

If  organised by your college

If  organised by your school or college

Any additional Training - Other Skills

You will receive any additional training that is required as part of your employment such as  First Aid or Data Protection.

You may receive industry recognised certificates.

As well as employability skills and the workplace experience it may be possible to take technical and professional qualifications.  

You may be offered other in-house training by your employer. Some schemes are offering additional courses.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

If  organised by your college.

If  organised by your school or college.

How is training or learning assessed?

You will be observed, hold discussions and complete written work for an assessor who will grade the work. At the end of the apprenticeship you will be required to complete an End Point Assessment. You will be awarded Pass, Merit or Distinction depending on the apprenticeship.

All elements of the T Level are assessed and graded by your college. You will awarded be Pass, Merit or Distinction 

At the end of the traineeship you will have an interview. You will discuss your progress and consider what you might do next. You will not be assessed or graded.

There will be no formal assessment but you will be given an end of placement interview.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

You will be assessed by a combination of course work, project assessment and some exams.

You will be assessed by a combination of exams and course work

What work experience is included?

You will be fully employed in a real, paid, job.  As well as the 20% Off the Job Training, an apprentice is learning on the job and gaining work-place experience every day.

A key part of T Levels is the Industry Placement which must be a minimum of 315 hours (roughly 45 days) over 2 years.This level of work experience means students will develop the workplace skills that employers are looking for and also gain a clear idea about their future career.

Traineeships include a high quality work placement of at least 70 hours with an employer at their premises.

Kickstart placements are real jobs that last 6 months. There are opportunities in all sectors and many different roles.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

Most schools and colleges will help you find work experience but it is not a compulsory part of the qualification.

Some schools and colleges may help students find work experience opportunities but this is not part of the A level curriculum.

Will I be paid?

Yes. At least the National Minimum Wage for apprentices, but many employers pay more.



Yes. You will be paid at least the National Minimum Wage for your age, but employers can offer more.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)



Any other benefits?

You will receive the same  benefits (holidays, pensions, sick pay etc) as other employees at a similar level.

The placement provider may provide some support with travel costs or meals for example

Some trainees may be eligible for help with travel, meal, and childcare costs if they are receiving welfare benefits. 

Kickstart employees will receive the same  benefits (holidays, pensions, sick pay etc) as other employees at a similar level.

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)



When can I start?

Different start dates throughout the year depending on the training provider.

Usually September intake

Throughout the year

Throughout the year

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

Usually September intake

Usually September intake

Included in UCAS Tariff?

Sometimes – It will depend on the apprenticeship and the university.




Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

Sometimes – It will depend on the course


Next steps / Progression Routes

An apprenticeship can lead to a higher or Degree Apprenticeship or  to long term employment. Some apprenticeships will give you UCAS points for entry to a full-time  degree course.  

After T levels you can progress directly into employment, or onto a higher or degree apprenticeship. T levels attract UCAS points for admission to some university degree courses.

A Traineeship can lead to an apprenticeship, permanent employment or further study.

The KickStart scheme can lead to an apprenticeship or full time work.   

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

Many VTQs attract UCAS points and can lead to university. You can also look for higher or degree apprenticeships or permanent employment.

A Levels can lead to a higher or degree apprenticeship, university or employment.

More Information

Check the Government website for further details about which colleges are running T Levels

Find more information on the Job Centre Plus website

Vocational & Technical Qualifications (including BTECs)

For more information on the range of Vocational Qualifications available and how to understand them – check out Compare Qualifications

Check out the UCAS website which explains A Level Options and much more.

Download printable Choices table

A printable table containing the highlights of this page is available for download here.

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This page and video have been produced in collaboration with Outcourse and Supplytrain.