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6th Form vs. Apprenticeships vs. Collage – My View

by Maggie Armstrong Gaisford – work experience student with SYLO Associates February 2018

Deciding between these life choices is hard to do. However, depending on what you want to do in the future may make it easier to decide. If you have a strong idea of a career path you would like to follow, the use of an apprenticeship is wise, you can go directly into the industry you want to work in, for example: plumber, electrician, hairdresser. However sometimes, even when you have a career path set in your mind, you need to have further qualifications such as A-levels and a degree.


Sometime a mixture of both is required, this can be common for things such as accountancy where you need to have higher levels of education and then can go into an apprenticeship (or internship) to complete your training. At the end of apprenticeships, it is also common that the company will keep you on as they have trained you themselves and been with you for a number of years, this makes it likely that at the end of it you will not only have a job but you will be fully trained for it.  Not only this, but even If you do not stay at the same company after the apprenticeships you will have learnt the skills of working in a business and what you are required to do in the job you have had an apprenticeship in. Many companies pay for the qualifications you require, so they have a vested interest and employing you after an apprenticeship gives them a return on their investment.


Another opportunity which is available at this stage of your life is going to college. Whilst doing this you complete a course covering one topic; whether it is construction, hair and beauty, business or more. These courses can vary in lengths depending of the level of education require (level 1, 2, 3 etc.), these will determine how well trained you are in your chosen course which could contribute to how likely you are to get a job after finishing. Doing the right college course at the right level can also be good for applying for university, as many universities now base their entry requirements on UCAS points and you do get these from completing college courses amongst other things.

Sixth Form

However, I personally chose sixth form as my chosen path after GCSE’s.  I decided to do an applied business course (which is the equivalent of 2 A-levels) as well as chemistry, philosophy and ethics at AS level. I then followed through with business and philosophy and ethics in my final year of sixth form to get 3 full A-levels. I specifically chose business as I knew that this was the career path I wanted to go with in the future. I knew that I would want to go to university and study a type of business course but at the beginning of my two years was unsure which specific course I would want to continue with. I chose philosophy as it was something that I had always been interested in, having connections with the church from a young age my passion for it has always been there but never so much as to go into a career in it (unlike business).

Going to sixth form has allowed me to pinpoint my interest in business and allowed me to have more time to do this. I have now decided which course at university I would like to go onto as well as searching for which university is the best for me. Through my business course we have looked at all different aspects of business from human resources to event management. Throughout this course my main interest has gone to human resources which led me to carry out a week of work experience at SYLO Associates which has only increased my enthusiasm for this sector. I am going on to study international business at Portsmouth university which will allow me to get more insight on my desired career as well as being able to study aboard for a year and having a work placement for an additional year.  I feel that by going to sixth form I have developed the skills and abilities needed to do these things and having part time jobs on the side has allowed me to build up my work ethic. I am excited to carry on my education and look forward to use the knowledge and skills I will learn to start a good career for myself in the future.

FOOTNOTE: Maggie was an excellent example of a work experience student, she listened to instructions, asked questions when she needed clarification and worked really hard. It was a pleasure having her in the office, we would highly recommend any business thinking about giving a place to a student for their work experience, to do so. Just ensure that you have prepared for them and give them a wide range of tasks to do so both they and you get the most from the experience.