Post-16 Application Guide – Part 2

22nd September 2021

As we know, post-16 applications and careers research has now begun (see Part 1 of our Post-16 application guide at: In this second instalment we will explore how to apply for apprenticeships and what financial support is available to you whilst studying.

We hope this guide will help you, as you make your next steps.

Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Study Programmes

School or college is not the only option. You may wish to consider a traineeship, apprenticeship, or study programme, as an alternative to school or college.

This includes supported employment options for those with SEND which can be found nationally via BASE: as well as via the links below:

What is a study programme?

A study programme is a course of study from six weeks to a year which may include some form of maths, English and often work experience and employability skills. Aimed at students of a lower ability or those who find mainstream education a challenge, they form pathways into apprenticeships, work-based training and/or further education. Students may take several study programmes over the course of a year, with each varying in length and content.

What are Traineeships & Apprenticeships?

Traineeships can follow college, school or study programmes. Encompassing up to six months of unpaid work experience, they are seen as a stepping-stone to an apprenticeship. Some providers put together a programme of support that starts with a study programme and then builds to a traineeship, followed by an apprenticeship.

Post-16 Apprenticeships at Level 2 to 3 are available in all shapes and sizes, with varying entry criteria (the more technical ones require 4s and above in English and maths GCSEs). Most are one day a week at a college, a training centre or equivalent, with the rest of the time (four days a week) at work. Students receive a training wage.

  • Note: It is worth being aware of Post-18 Apprenticeships at Levels 4 and above. These are aimed at students who have gained Level 3 qualifications via school, college, or the equivalent (usually through 6th form or college).
  • Entry criteria varies considerably, with some requiring specific subjects at Level 3 and work experience to enter. The areas covered are varied, with opportunities from Science through to Law, Business & Architecture!

Further details on all types of apprenticeships can be found at: and


Applications for each of these differ to the school or college process as follows.

For study programmes you can apply directly to training providers, many of whom can be found via the Local Offer directories in each county or via the Post-16 education teams within each local authority:

There is a wide range so search carefully. It is possible to arrange a visit with each provider to help you decide if it is right for you. Although many won’t have set open days, most are happy for students, parents & carers to visit. Due to their nature, some have very limited places (only taking around six to twelve young people on a programme).

With regards to apprenticeships and traineeships, there are many helpful and useful websites which can help you, with some being sector specific. Speak to your careers adviser in school or college to access the sites you need, for the occupational areas which interest you and check out:

Apprenticeship vacancy listings are open all year round, but for Year 11 students, the places with a September 2022 start often appear from March onwards. Places are hard to find and competitive, so if taking this route, make sure you also have a back-up in place. Many young people also apply to a school, college and/or study programme in case they don’t find an apprenticeship.

  • Note: If you do find an apprenticeship, you just let the places you applied to as “back-ups” know in September (saying you won’t need to attend). This is ok and expected.

Many apprenticeships are also found through networks (as opposed to just the vacancy listings). It is important that you develop relationships with local employers, as this will increase the chances of you finding an apprenticeship. You can do this via work experience with local employers or even speaking to friends and family.


If you need help with this (such as how to write a CV or approach employers) speak to your independent Careers Adviser or careers leader in school or college, who will be able to support with this.

You may like the idea of an apprenticeship but not feel quite ready to start one after Year 11 – this is ok and not an issue. Many young people go to college, 6th form or attend a study programme first, to build up their confidence and then apply for an apprenticeship.

It is also quite usual, to go from Level 3 study, onto a Level 2 apprenticeship, as the level of the apprenticeship is set at the level the work requires (not the level of study you have taken).

  • For example, you may take some BTECs or A-levels which are Level 3 at 6th form or college, in subjects you enjoy. Afterwards, you may then decide to apply for a mechanics apprenticeship at Level 2 or 3.
  • Alternatively, you may go to college, study for a vocational course such as construction to see if you like working in the area, and then go onto an apprenticeship in Carpentry or similar.

It is your journey to take, so find the path that feels best for you.

Financial Help for Study

You may be concerned about what support is available at Post-16. Many of the Local Offers have links to the details of financial support available in each county. It is worth exploring these, to see what you may be entitled to.

If circumstances provide you with greater worries, it is important that you speak to the school, college, or training provider you are applying to, as some have hardship funds you can access, as well as staff trained in financial support.


All of this may feel a little daunting, but our careers advisers in schools as well as our colleagues at the National Careers Service helpline for teenagers are here to support you if you have any questions or queries.

Good luck with your careers research and next steps.

Written by Chris Targett RCDP, Careers Adviser

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