Not going to University? Know your options

Thanks to rising tuition fees, accommodation and living costs, the average student now leaves university £25k in debt. With 80 applicants for every graduate job advertised, it's no surprise that more of our young people are looking at options other than university. The good news is that there are opportunities out there...

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Careers that don't require a degree
You might be surprised to know that many careers don't require a degree and that you can become a lawyer or accountant without going to university. Some accountancy firms offer places on the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) scheme with on-the-job training. The ILEX scheme (Institute of Legal Executives) offers a mix of on-the-job training and academic study - once qualified as a legal executive you can study to become a fully qualified solicitor.

Retail management traineeships
Many retail chains offer graduate-style manager traineeships that take between two and three years to complete. You can expect to spend time at head office and on the shop floor - and there may be a chance to obtain a professional qualification, in marketing or accounting for example. Plenty of other firms and organisations recruit those with A-levels, such as the armed forces, the emergency services, the IT industry and the hotel and catering industry.

While any one considering an apprenticeship scheme needs to look at pay carefully (most don't pay well and some pay appalling badly) they do offer the opportunity to get into the industry of your choice. More than 100,000 employers offer apprenticeships and the Government is promising to make an additional £150million available, so there are plenty of opportunities.

And if you do decide that you want or need a degree for your chosen field...

Open University
While going to university full time may not be for you, perhaps due to other commitments like childcare or work, there's also the option to study from home with the Open University. They offer a surprising number of highly-regarded courses and you can take them in modular form - working towards credits as time and circumstances allow.

Take a gap year
There are companies offering sometimes paid work experience in this country and abroad for those wishing to take a year about before Uni. The charity 'A Year In Industry' offers paid work experience for 9-12 months, to help give young people a way in to a permanent job. You'll find placements in engineering, science, IT, e-commerce, business, marketing, finance and logistics.