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Parents: play your part

Want to help your children make the right decision about their future?

Wondering about options like apprenticeships? Here’s what you need to know.

Deciding what to do when you leave school isn't always easy. Gone are the days of stuffy careers offices and standard lists of jobs and how to get them. The world of work is changing, the opportunities can seem endless, but the reality can be confusing - for your children and for you.

Don't panic, we’re here to help. There’s lots of information, resources and advice that can arm you with the tools you need to help your child make the right choices.

Start the conversation

It can be a battle to get past the screens and the day to day distractions to have a conversation with your child about their future. Here are some tips for getting the communication flowing with confidence:

  • Talk bigger picture

Don't overwhelm them with talk of applications, qualifications and careers, put the focus on talking about what they love. Try to draw out their interests, their strengths and weaknesses, what motivates them, how they enjoy learning and who they want to be.

  • Help them network

Networking is daunting at any age, but if your child has an interest or wants to know more about a career then try and introduce them to friends or colleagues who might be able to offer some insight.

  • Put it on paper

There's lots to think about so it's worth taking some notes, setting some next steps and possible outcomes. A shared focus can help your child recognise that you're in this together and stop you both feeling overwhelmed with options.

Keep an open mind

It's natural to have dreams and aspirations for your children but make sure you explore all the options. Don’t fall into the trap of pushing them along the route you took or into opportunities you feel you missed out on. Keep an open mind and give them tools to make the right decision for them.

Explore the options



University is the most popular choice for young people leaving school after A Levels or equivalent exams. A degree can improve career prospects and employability as well as help your child meet new people, get more confident and study a subject they love. It's worth considering things like tuition fees, student loans and the application process before jumping into a UCAS application.



There are lots of different types of apprenticeships that offer great opportunities for those leaving school either at 16 or after A levels or equivalent. Apprenticeships combine study and employment and are available across a huge range of industries, from legal services to engineering, banking to technology.



College is a great place to get in shape for university or sharpen up your employability skills. Students aiming for University should consider A-levels, Scottish Highers or the equivalent or if work is on the agenda explore BTEC diplomas, NVQ's or the new TechBac.



If your child has a clear idea of the industry and role they want, they might choose to get stuck straight into the world of work. Work experience, internships or part-time roles can all be good ways for them to get a foot in the door.



If you're not familiar with apprenticeships you might perceive them as entry-level, trade-based courses, but this career route has changed massively over the last decade. And interest in modern apprenticeships has grown too as more and more young people look for options that fit with their skills and ambition.

Let's debunk some Apprenticeship myths...

Apprenticeships are just for trades like building and plumbing.
This may have been true in the past, but apprenticeships have become a popular route into all kinds of industries. The UK Government Apprenticeship Framework outlines over 150 types of apprenticeships, across a wide range of industries, from digital technology to banking and in organisations including the BBC, MI5 and Mercedes Benz.

Apprenticeships are for people who are less academic
Regardless of the grades they achieve, every child is different. Some will thrive in traditional higher education while others will flourish continuing their learning in the professional world. An apprenticeship gives young people the chance to gain qualifications and earn a salary while they work.

Apprenticeships are for those that don't want a degree
Taking the apprentice route doesn't close the door to a degree in the future. Further into their careers many apprentices choose to build on the qualifications they have gained in their apprenticeship with a degree that's relevant to their career path.


The best of both worlds?

For many young people an apprenticeship is the best of both worlds. A way to explore work while gaining new qualifications and enjoying financial independence.

Apprenticeships generally range from one to five years in length, and many offer young people the chance to work in the career of their choice while gaining degree-level qualifications – without the ever-increasing university debt.

Apprentices under 19 must be paid at least £3.90 an hour and those over 19 are entitled to be paid the minimum wage after their first year. Many apprentice schemes attract the best talent by offering more than the legal requirements and some pay as high as £23,000 a year.

Whether they are planning on leaving school at 16 or 18, there are many apprenticeship options you can explore with your child. The student resources provided by Amazing Apprenticeships are a great place to start.


Addressing the skills gap

Many see apprenticeships as a key factor in addressing the growing skills gap in the UK. In many industries there is a lack of skilled workers and managers that will only increase after Brexit. Increasingly businesses want to capture the brightest minds and nurture talent through attractive apprenticeship schemes that give young people a fast track into the job market.

As a wider range of apprenticeship schemes become available and there is a trend towards higher pay and better qualifications, more and more young people are viewing apprenticeships as a genuine alternative to a university degree. If your child wants to develop their skills and experience in a workplace environment, apprenticeships are definitely an option worth exploring.

Hear from some of our RBS apprentices to learn about how they made their first career choices.