For some, university is the natural route but there are many alternatives for those who feel better equipped to take a vocational route over academic study.

Apprenticeships are becoming ever more popular and in the academic year 2012-13 more than half a million apprentices began their training, and there were over 1.4 million online applications.

Apprenticeships deliver work for young people and adults, giving apprentices the chance to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future. Currently, more than 100,000 employers in England offer Apprenticeships in 200,000 locations, covering over 170 industries and 1500 different job roles.

At any one time, there are up to 20,000 Apprenticeships available on, the official Apprenticeship vacancy matching site managed by the National Apprenticeship Service.

Moreover, apprentices’ opportunities for career progression are increasing with the expansion of Higher Apprenticeships. Equivalent to degrees, more of these specialised and highly skilled Apprenticeships are being offered each year, giving individuals the chance to continue their professional development and fully realise their potential.

You may want to consider the Traineeships programme, designed to provide a stepping stone to future success by giving young people aged 16-23 the work preparation training, English, maths and work experience they need to get an Apprenticeship or other job. Traineeships are delivered by training providers and funded by the government, with employers providing the valuable work experience placement. Visit or call 08000 150 600 to find out more.

The National Careers Service is available to everyone aged 13 and over in England and offers high quality information and advice to anyone considering their options once they leave full time education.

Joe Billington, Director of the National Careers Service, said:  “The National Careers Service is here to inspire and excite all young people about the many opportunities available to them once they leave full time education.

“Young people need impartial, inspirational, information and advice to motivate them to succeed and help make the right choices for their future. Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular option with young people, providing the opportunity to work in a range of jobs and to earn and learn at the same time. They can lead to life changing career opportunities with real progression.”

Other options for young people include specialist qualifications to work towards, such as AAT (The Association of Accounting Technician's) or ILEX (Institute of Legal Executives). Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND) allow students to study at a higher education academic level while not having to attend university. Gap years are another alternative to university. They can be a great way to explore careers, develop skills, discover new cultures and gain invaluable life experience.

If you are not sure you are suited to University, or are just contemplating your options, check out for more information on your choices. Alternatively, contact the National Careers Service, which provides independent, impartial advice on learning and work and access to a wide range of information about careers and the job market. The National Careers Service is available online and over the phone on 0800 100 900 to everyone aged 13 and over and face to face in the community for adults.

You will find information on more than 750 jobs on the job profiles section of the website along with useful advice about developing your CV on the CV builder. To find out what type of job you might be suited to, try the Skills Health Check. People aged 16 and over can also open a Lifelong Learning Account, a personal online space where they can store all their information about learning and skills.