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School Leaver programmes are offered by some firms to students who are bright and motivated, but do not want to go to university. They provide training in a specific career area and allow students to bypass university and gain experience and professional qualifications in their chosen career whilst earning a salary. They usually last 3-4 years and in most cases you will be ahead of your peers in career terms who decided to go down the university route. They are becoming increasingly popular as less degree programmes are available, and competition for university places is fiercer than ever. Also, in this economic climate many students are graduating and finding it difficult to find employment. Gone are the days when graduate could sail into employment, so now is the time to really think long and hard about which option is right for you. Luckily, we’ve made that process a bit easier by outlining the pros and cons below.
- A school leavers programme is an alternative route into professions such as Accountancy, Retail or Banking
- You can achieve a professional qualification whilst earning money and gaining work experience
- Going to university can be expensive and can lead to debt
- You gain firsthand experience through working with professionals from an industry that interests you
- You can go on to higher education at a later stage of your life
- University provides students with three or more years to think about what career they want to go into before committing to anything
- Whilst at university, students develop a wide range of skills which provide a strong foundation
- A university degree is flexible and provides access to a range of careers, where as a school leavers programme focuses solely on one particular profession
- A degree can help you quickly progress up the ladder and often opens new doors
- There is a great deal of support and government help available to those who apply to university
Before making your decision, it is always a good idea to speak to your parents, guardians and teachers. They can offer you guidance so you can make the right decision. Speaking to people who have joined a company through a school leaver programme will help answer many of your questions, as well as speaking to university students to gain both perspectives. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call the HR department of the firm you are thinking of applying to. They will gladly put you in touch with employees on the programme so you can get an honest insight into what it is like.
Pure Potential works with a number of firms who offer school leaver programmes:
For more information on School Leaver Programmes, check out AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk that has the latest vacancies from employers offering school leaver jobs as well as advice on how to secure one.
PP: School Leaver Event
In 2012, for the first time ever, we teamed up with a number of firms to run an event exclusively for students who are interested in learning more about school leaver programmes. The event was a huge success and saw over 250 students meeting leading global firms to find out about their programmes, get advice on making an outstanding application and how to get ahead of their peers.
Students also had the opportunity to attend hour-long interactive workshops delivered by our partner firms in a range of industries. At our 2012 event, BDO, Ernst & Young, Marks & Spencer, ICAEW and CISI sent representatives to meet students. Our partners spoke to students about their industry, what the programme will involved, entry requirements, the financial benefits and the qualifications they could gain. This was a great opportunity for students to explore their future options whilst offering them a valuable experience to put on their CV.
PP: School Leavers will be taking place again in the Spring Half Term, 2013. Further information about the event will be released closer to the time, but if you would like to register your interest, you can do so by emailing binda[at]purepotential.org.
We met Stephanie at our 2012 PP: School Leavers event. 'She has gone on to achieve great things including securing a place on a school leaver programme at a leading financial firm - read her story below.
During Sixth Form I began thinking of what I wanted to do next; compulsory education was over and it was time for me to begin to make my own decisions. University seemed like the natural pathway since the majority of people my age seemed to be applying and my older siblings were both already studying for a degree. My Sixth Form had also been giving us information and advice about university so when UCAS applications opened I applied to a number of top universities to study Economics.
I greatly enjoy Economics as a subject and was excited about the prospect of studying it further. However I remained unsure about if university was the right thing for me. I spent a considerable amount of time exploring a number of alternatives to university, especially in light of the increase in tuition fees, and I was particularly struck by School Leaver Programmes. I discovered the programmes are offered in a range of subjects across a number of leading firms and are becoming ever more popular.
Reading more about the possible programmes I was excited by the prospect of gaining ‘hands on experience’ in a supportive environment, which would be well recognised in the evermore competitive job market. I was mainly interested in positions involving banking, tax, statistics... as this would give me a chance to further my economic knowledge by learning from the real economy. Going straight into work would give independence, the chance to study for professional qualifications and I would be earning rather than accumulating student debt!
I decided to apply for a position and whilst working through the different application stages I heard about Pure Potential events through my Careers Advisors at Sixth Form. I attended a day run by Pure Potential which was specifically for Sixth Formers where I learnt more about the different School Leavers programmes available and meet other people in a similar situation to myself. The best thing about the day in my opinion was the opportunity to network with representatives from companies such as Ernst & Young, BDO, Santander... and ask questions about the opportunities they have available. The day also consisted of sessions focusing on how to approach the different stages of the application processes (application forms, competency questions, interviews...) and talks on writing CV’s and cover letters. The tips I received from these seminars gave me the confidence and determination to carry on submitting applications and to strive to perform to the best of my ability in every step faced while applying.
In September 2012, I began working at a leading financial bank after being successful in applying to their school leaver programme. I am greatly enjoying the role and am excited about all it entails over the coming years. I am now glad I decided against university and I am grateful to Pure Potential for the guidance they gave me which helped me to where I am today.