Finding a career is one of the most important decisions one can make as it will determine what the average person spends a large proportion of their life doing. Therefore, it must be enjoyable, viable, and help you reach your overarching life goals. As an educator at a vocational training centre, I have seen many individuals work hard, receive their qualifications, and go on to have impressive careers in many different fields; using this experience, I will be presenting the most important steps to take when deciding on a career and how you can receive the qualification you need to reach your goals.
Aside from the obvious point of deciding on a career which you will enjoy (at least relatively), there are actually some quantifiable means of deciding on a career. These may be different depending on your goals but include how much money you are likely to earn in the career, what progression routes are available, and crucially, how employable it will make you. These factors all change with time, as industries develop, and jobs are created or destroyed. It is certainly important to think about the future, especially as Artificial Intelligence (AI) gets more and more advanced and threatens to cause many professions to be in danger of becoming automated. For example, Forbes Technology Council have listed “Insurance Underwriting” as the job most likely to become automated in the coming years, with AI likely to take over warehouse and manufacturing jobs in quick succession. As AI is best suited to jobs made up of predictable and repetitive tasks, it is the consensus that creative and decision-based positions will be the jobs to stay, or the jobs that just require a more human approach.
Once you have chosen the career that you want to pursue, there are three main paths to qualification: University, Apprenticeship, and vocational qualifications. There are many variants to these paths, with different schemes and elements being integrated, such as traineeships. Moreover, the government launched a new path in September 2020, limited to certain industries, called “T-Levels”. However, it is too early to consider these a major route to qualification as there are so few.
The most common path, University, needs little introduction. You will need a given amount of UCAS points, or set A-Level grades, which determine whether a university lets you onto their course. From there, it will cost £9k a year and often additional amounts for accommodation, but you will get a highly regarded undergraduate qualification from which a student may advance to the workplace or to a master’s degree. However, many students will not have the UCAS points required to get into a University (the standard minimum is 112). This may be because they did not get the grades required, have a lack of qualifications, or have qualifications which are not recognised in the UK.
If a student does not have the UCAS points they need to get into University, it is a matter of “topping-up” on UCAS points, which can be done by receiving certain qualifications, the full range of which can be seen here. Moreover, there are two qualification types called HNC and HND which can lead to direct progression into the second or third year in University (HNC provides progression to the second year with HND providing progression directly into the third year of University). Check out our article we produced on the topic of HNC and HND to find out more details.
An increasingly popular route, Apprenticeship, allows participants to gain a technical qualification while earning a salary and gaining practical experience in the workplace. These can be at any level, from 2-7 (same level of GCSE all the way up to masters). They are funded partly by the government and partly through the apprenticeship level requiring companies with an annual payroll bill of £3m or more to withhold 2% of this sum that can only be spent on apprenticeships. Moreover, a bonus of £2k is being given to employers taking on new apprentices aged 16-24 with new apprentices aged 25+ attracting a bonus of £1.5k. This means that apprenticeships are going to be readily available to an even higher extent in the new future and therefore will be an even more viable option.
This is more of an Umbrella term for many different qualifications and courses- all of which lead to practical qualifications allowing one to start a career. Vocational courses are all assessed in an “evidence based” manner, meaning that many different methods can be used to show that a learner can pass the qualification including assignments, other qualifications that show prior learning, and products of work. This means that candidates who are already highly experienced in a field can get one of these qualifications relatively easily, and they can be done while working and at a relatively low cost as compared to University.
These qualifications can be done at any level, from 1-7, and while not all provide UCAS points, many do (including BTEC’s). Therefore, they can provide access to University as well as promotions and set candidates on numerous and specific career paths. Many vocational qualifications are even industry standards, meaning that if you do not have it will seriously impact your ability to find a role. For example, most insurance companies need staff giving spa or beauty treatments to be qualified to perform it before they will insure the company. Therefore, beauty companies will usually only hire those candidates with the correct vocational qualifications.
Here is a link to all the vocational qualifications we offer: https://www.schoolofleadership.co.uk/othm-courses/
Whether you need to top up UCAS points, join one of our HNC/HND courses, want to join one of our vocational qualifications, or need general help and advice regarding your career and prospects, please contact us either by phone or email and one of our experienced advisors will help you devise a learning plan that best suits your needs, completely free, with no hidden costs.