School leaver options: school leaver programmes

Taking a look at school leaver programmes, which could be a great option for your child after A-levels.

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While school leaver programmes are still work and training options for your children, they aren’t as easy to define as apprenticeships. They will vary from company to company and industry to industry.

Employers offer programmes that give school leavers with A-level the chance to work towards a university degree and/or professional qualification.

They tend to be offered by large companies in industries like accountancy and finance, engineering, retail, hospitality and tourism, and IT.

Most employers will sponsor or part-sponsor your child’s education on the programme and they will work full-time or part-time for them: if your child chooses a school leaver programme, they will receive education and training while working for a company and earning a wage.

What qualifications does a school leaver programme offer my child?

As school leaver programmes aim to provide a genuine alternative for students who would have otherwise gone to university, employers put plenty of emphasis on the kind of qualifications your child might gain while on the programme.

Some programmes are centred on attaining a bachelor’s degree or foundation degree, while others might focus on the achievement of a professional qualification.

A few will combine them both, offering school leaver trainees the chance to obtain a degree and a postgraduate professional qualification.

Since they are positioned as a high-quality alternative to university, most companies usually specify a minimum number of UCAS points or a minimum number of A-levels in their entry requirements. This could be anything from requiring two A-level passes to asking for 320 UCAS points.

How long do school leaver programmes last?

School leaver programmes tend to be longer than the average apprenticeship (apart from Degree Apprenticeships) – most can last anywhere between three and seven years.

The years are usually broken down into stages. For example, students might spend one year at university, before working full-time for the company for the next two years, or they might work at the company and study for a degree or professional qualification on a part-time or distance learning basis.

Is my child eligible for a school leaver programme?

The whole point of a school leaver programme is that employers do not expect applicants to be experts in the industry already.

However, since they are positioned as a high-quality alternative to university, most companies usually specify a minimum number of UCAS points or a minimum number of A-levels in their entry requirements. This could be anything from requiring two A-level passes to asking for 320 UCAS points.

School leaver programme entry requirements will vary from company to company, but overall they will be looking for bright, ambitious candidates with an interest in their industry, who are enthusiastic about jumping straight into the world of work.