What Can I Do With My A-Levels?

It’s high time that we start acknowledging ALL the options A-levels open up. So kick back and relax as we take you through a whirlwind tour of what you can do with your A-levels.

Option 1: University

It’s the traditional route and still a very good one. Degrees are not to be sniffed at and can be the ticket to some great career options.

If you’re set on going to university, you’ll need to do plenty of research into the degree courses and universities on offer, finding one that tallies with your interests and career plans.

You can browse our university profiles and courses section to find out more. Tuition fees might seem like a lot, but there is plenty of financial support out there in the form of loans, bursaries and grants that you can take advantage of.

The long university holidays can be used to build up work experience, or you can opt for a sandwich degree course that involves a year spent working in industry.

Degrees are great if you want to keep your career options open, access certain careers that are only open to graduates, or if you simply want to study a subject that you are passionate about.
On average, graduates tend to get higher starting salaries and earn more over their lifetime.

However, university isn’t for everyone. Some people want to get stuck straight into work or are put off by the cost of university. There are other options where you can work for a company, whilst gaining a degree.

Option 2: Sponsored Degree Programme

If you want to go to university but are daunted by the cost, sponsored degree programmes might be just the ticket. Sponsored degree programmes come in all shapes and sizes.

For example, there are ones where you’ll attend university part-time whilst working for the company that foots your tuition fees.

Other sponsored degree programmes allow school leavers to study a course full-time at university, which has been devised by a consortium of employers or a single company in conjunction with the host institution.

You can read up on the different types of sponsored degree programmes here and you can browse selected sponsored degree programmes here.

On the plus side, sponsored degree programmes can offer you some much needed financial assistance to help fund your way through university.

Particularly for those with work experience as part of the programme, they can help you build up a relationship with an employer and enhance your employment prospects after university.

Seems like a no brainer then? Well, sponsored degree programmes aren’t all sunshine and rainbows.

They suffer from a lack of choice, only being available at a limited number of universities and covering a limited range of degree courses and career paths.

Option 3: Gap Year

You don’t have to dive straight into university or permanent employment. If you’re a bit bewildered about your options, or just fancy some breathing space, a gap year might be right for you.

It’s not just a year to kick back and do nothing, though; you won’t really impress many people doing that. Most people work for a bit and then go travelling.

Many of the large companies, such as KPMG, Bank of England and IBM have gap year programmes for those wishing to get in a solid year of work experience.

Alternatively, you might want to volunteer in the UK or abroad, or use your time off to get plenty of work experience. This may even help you figure out which careers might interest you.

The key thing, if you do decide to do a gap year, is to make sure you do something worthwhile. Some universities and employers won’t look favourably on gap years where you’ve just spent your entire time in the clubs of South America.

Try and make sure you’ve included some more valuable experiences in your gap year, as well as partying.

Option 4: School Leaver Programme

If you want to leap straight into the world of work but still want to gain some serious qualifications, then a school leaver programme might be the thing for you.

These schemes usually involve studying for a degree or professional qualification, whilst working for a company.

As an employee, you’ll get a wage and they’ll cover your training costs. That means you can earn while you learn and avoid student debt.

School leaver programmes are designed to offer a genuine alternative to university.

Entry onto a scheme can be very competitive.

The big finance and accountancy firms dominate the school leaver programme market at the moment, but other opportunities can be found in industries like engineering, IT, retail, digital media and hospitality.

Bear in mind, school leaver programmes are still relatively new and therefore aren’t common in most industries.

You can find out more about school leaver programmes here and you can peruse school leaver programmes here.

Option 5: Higher Apprenticeship

There is something else you can do with those A-levels, and that’s a Higher Apprenticeship.

These are the crème de la crème of apprenticeships. Higher Apprenticeships bear many similarities to school leaver programmes (in fact, many school leaver programmes include a Higher Apprenticeship as part of their training programme) but tend to be shorter.

You can also get qualifications like foundation degrees, HNDs and undergraduate degrees as part of a Higher Apprenticeship.

Apprentices can usually top up their qualifications after the apprenticeship too. You can find out more about Higher Apprenticeships here and you can have a look at Higher Apprenticeship opportunities here.

Of course, some people bypass all of these options and plunge straight into employment. It’s up to you to have a good think, do some research and work out the best option for you. Don’t just think about the short term.

Try and imagine where you want to be in five or ten years, and figure out the best way to get there.

Deciding what to do after A-levels is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, so choose wisely!

How Do I Become a Plumber?

Becoming a plumber could be a pretty smart choice right now as the economy is in tatters and being a good tradesperson with a good reputation could offer a stable and solid job with decent pay. As many businesses and companies either fail or cut right back on their staff, particularly in the worlds of real estate and banking and finance, turning to something like plumbing could be a wise move. But how does one get into plumbing?

Probably the best way to get into something like plumbing is to start out young and get yourself trained and experienced early. For this reason the best way into the trade in the UK is through an apprenticeship, a government sponsored scheme where you get hands-on experience and study in a college at the same time. More about this below. Older people or those looking to get into plumbing after pursuing previous careers can pursue other options as an apprenticeship might not suit them. We’ll look at options for them too.

The Apprenticeship Route

Apprenticeships are a great way to get into the trade of plumbing for several reasons. Firstly, they are designed to take young people, school leavers or career starters looking to get into vocational work fairly young, perhaps those for whom further study is not an option. An apprenticeship can begin from an age as young as 16 so the learning can take place fast and by your 20s you can head straight into paid work. The great thing about apprenticeships is that the government sponsors the scheme and also your employer will pay you a wage while you work with them. Qualifications and competence in the workplace come out of completing an apprenticeship.

Studying Plumbing Courses Independently

There are so many independent colleges out there now which specialize in teaching trades skills. These could be intensive, evening or weekend courses which are designed to give you skills and qualifications designed to help your trade proficiency skills. The good thing about these courses is that you can do them around a current job or learn pretty intensively. Choice of courses is pretty wide…if you want to do an introductory course to test the waters that is perfectly feasible, but if you want something more solid you have the option of studying for approved vocational qualifications.

Become a Plumber’s Mate

Another way of getting into the trade is to become what’s known as a plumber’s mate…kind of an informal apprenticeship if you like. This is something often done by those who have family or friends already in the trade – many a plumber around these days learned from his dad! This can be a good way to get into the trade if you have the contacts although don’t forget you will always require qualifications in today’s health and safety-obsessed world.

In Summary…

In summary, there are a few ways to get into plumbing and to train as a plumber. By far the best way to do it is to undertake an apprenticeship – you’ll get the best quality training and qualifications which will stand you in good stead for your career path ahead. It’s worth being slightly careful with the independent study option – if you do take courses at a private institute just check to see what exactly you will be qualified for upon completion of the course. Good luck!

Hairdressing Apprenticeships and Jobs – Get a Foundation Degree in Hair Design

If you are entering the world of hairdressing then you will soon become familiar with the term Foundation degrees. It is imperative that hairdressing students gain as much knowledge and develop the necessary skills to make them competent and successful within the industry. This is where the Foundation degrees comes into play because they offer higher education qualifications. The basis for this is a partnership with potential employers to see that the student is meeting the standards and criteria of the Industry.

The foundation degree is flexible which really meets the needs of all potential students. It can be taken either on a full time or part time basis. This goes a long way in affording the individual who is currently working to embark on another career without having to quit their current job. This reduces much of the financial burden that is often placed on a student.

The courses that are within the Foundation degrees are structured to ensure that they are pertinent to the Industry which in this case in Hairdressing. The Foundation degree is a joint venture between the educational directors and the potential employers. This type of partnership insures that the level of training being offered meet the requirements of the present time demands. The knowledge is not becoming stale or outdated. As the student is learning the textbook theory, they are also gaining the practical or hands on knowledge in the salon environment. This type of training seems to far enhance the learning abilities of the student. Being able to put into practice what one is learning is a definite advantage to education.

Being involved in an agreed partnership like this means that the employer is fully aware of the student requirements, such as needing time off to write exams for example. This reduces the stress of the student having to approach an outside employer for time off.

As we mentioned this Program has either full time or part time options. Students that have competed their first level or A Level at College find it a great opportunity to progress from the completion of their college segment right into this program. If this is the choice then it will take two years to fully complete the foundation degree. This is naturally a much quicker method for the student to attain their overall goal of becoming a hairdresser.

There are some students though that cannot utilize the full time program because of various reasons. For example, they may be in the midst of a career changes and finances require they continue working at an unrelated job while in training for their new chosen career of hairdressing. This means the end goal will not be met until approximately 3-4 years, depending on the time availability of the student.

Beyond this degree, the graduate can venture onto an Honors degree if they wish to advance within the industry. This doesn’t take as long as one would think; in fact, it can be achieved within 12-15 months.

This type of training partnership opens the doors for many individuals desiring to become a hairdresser that would not under normal circumstances have the same opportunity.

Now, you can cut and style hair like the pros…

Become An Electrician – Your Electrician Apprenticeship Choices

Have you considered your electrician apprenticeship possibilities? Here’s a few of them:

1. The Union Apprenticeship Training Course

This electrician apprenticeship training program is developed by the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee for the Electrical Industry, and it’s the most popular program for anyone seeking to become an electrician. This training program is offered by many associated local training committees nationwide, and it’s considered to be one of the finest apprenticeship training courses in the country.

2. State Backed Apprenticeship Training Programs

These apprenticeship training courses are financed by the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee as well as the sizeable electrical companies in the region. These training courses are put in place by these firms to instruct their entry level personnel, which is just the thing for anybody who prefers consistent long term employment as an electrician. Having said that, if you are hoping to become a private electrician as soon as you go through your apprenticeship, it is not recommended.

3. Military service Electrician Apprenticeship

A frequently disregarded apprenticeship training program is the course in the U.S. Armed service. An armed forces electrical apprenticeship can offer you electrician training and pay more in comparison to a civilian apprenticeship. Once you have finished your military services training and fulfilled your compulsory duration of military service, you can choose to continue in the military as an electrician or transfer your know-how to a civilian role.

Picking An Electrical Specialization For Your Apprenticeship

When you have chosen which electrician apprenticeship you’d go for, you’ll need to determine what specialization you’d want. There are 4 typical specializations you can pick from, including:

1. Outside Lineman

The outside lineman’s job is to transport electric power from power stations to local service locations by way of electrical lines. As an outside lineman, you’re going to work with high voltage lines regularly, and be asked to work in bad weather conditions and at great heights.

2. Inside Wireman

An inside wireman’s responsibility is to transfer electric power from the local power supply to the various electrical structures within industrial and commercial buildings. Being an inside wireman, you’ll be performing a wide range of duties, from set up to servicing and repair. Should you would rather concentrate on residential jobs, you may opt to become a residential wireman as an alternative.

3. Installer Technician

The installer technician’s job is to deploy the communication and data networks for a building. As an installer technician, you’re going to be in control of coordinating and configuring these networks to ensure that they are in good shape.

Plumbing Apprenticeships

Could you get a plumbing apprenticeship?

A plumbing apprenticeship is becoming very difficult to obtain and it is now rare to obtain places for apprentices at the current time. It has been made worse by government legislation that states that all employees, by law, have a minimum level of pay and holidays, in addition to all the usual company benefits. So, the problem is mostly a financial one.

In an ideal world everybody should have a good level of pay and working conditions, but this was not the case in old days. Although this might be an ideal situation in the modern world most small employers do not have that level of resources to finance the apprentice; it really is that simple. What has consequently happened then is that plumbing businesses do not offer plumbing apprenticeships at all; they have ceased.

The consequence of this is that there is now a shortage of highly trained plumbers over the whole of the UK. The situation is not getting any better because rather than the government giving financial help to small companies to get the training back, they have chosen to adopt a policy of providing subsidies for thousands of immigrants to the UK where more often than not poor quality trades people are welcomed with open arms. The eastern bloc countries especially are coming here in their thousands.

This has to a point filled some holes in the market, but at a huge cost. It is a shame because people already living here wanting to become plumbers here are being told there are no plumbing training jobs. It is a growing problem because cheap labour from foreign countries does mostly have a negative effect. Many people coming here find that they are not able to survive without government intervention because the cost of living is so high. They are helped financially causing a further drain to the taxpayer.

In the old days somebody wanting to start a plumbing apprenticeship would work for very little money on the understanding that he or she would start at an early age, usually live at home, and be supported by mum or dad whilst the training was going on. The early sacrifice of money and benefits at work would be compensated at a later date once the training was complete. This way, the employer could afford to finance the apprentice plumber. In fact, it was normal for the parents or guardians to also enter into the plumbing apprenticeship contract to provide living expenses whilst the training was carried out.

Five years later, a fully qualified plumber would emerge. Those days are long gone, and it seems that right now they will never return. People have different expectations nowadays and it is unlikely that people learning the plumbing trade would be prepared to sacrifice five years of wages just to learn a trade. Of course, plumbing apprenticeships started early, usually when you left school at sixteen and it would follow that even aged twenty one, most firms would only allow newly qualified plumbers to carry out small works, and not large plumbing jobs.

When we take a look at some of the work carried out by plumbers of years ago we can see the quality and skills needed. They were artisans and it took years to become an expert. It is fair to say that proper plumbing apprenticeships are almost dead. There are so few opportunities for people now that this route is almost just a pipe dream. It is still possible to get started in plumbing but for the majority of people they will have to look at a different route.