With exam season drawing to a close, Katy's latest blog talks about next steps, and why venturing into further education is not as complicated at it may seem.

The exams are over, summer’s here and you now have a blissful few weeks ahead to enjoy the summer with your friends.

Some of you will be crystal clear on what you want to do next, others not so much.

In this blog I’d like to talk about the choice of qualifications, and hopefully reassure you that it’s not as complicated as it may seem!

Simply put, there are three types of routes to choose from – apprenticeships where you are working and learning, and vocational/technical or academic where you will be studying full time in college.

Let’s start with apprenticeships

Apprenticeships usually entail one day of study in college and four days where you are working. You will have a proper job and be paid. Your job must match with the apprenticeship standard you are following. They are a brilliant route for those of you ready to enter the world of work, whilst still having the support and safety of the college and everything that offers.

The knowledge and skills you learn in college will be applied to your job, and vice-versa. They have to work hand-in-hand so that you really maximise your learning.

Apprenticeships are normally two years and at the end of your apprenticeship you will be well placed to secure a full-time job within the sector you have trained in. You will have a wealth of real, work-experience along with a formal qualification.

You may also be able to progress onto a Higher or Degree Apprenticeship, enabling you to continue to develop, learn and expand your skills and experience within the sector you’re working in.

With the expansion of higher and degree apprenticeships, coupled with university costs soaring, they’re becoming increasingly popular with employers and apprentices alike.

Average university student debt is currently running at around £45,000 and a there’s a nationwide shortage of skilled trades people. Companies are crying out for bright and enthusiastic apprentices to join their teams. It also means you won’t incur any Higher Education debt. In fact, you will be earning money, gaining a degree and strengthening your CV. What a brilliant option.

Unrivalled employer links

At City of Portsmouth College we have unrivalled links with employers in the region and offer a broad range of apprenticeship training opportunities. We are particularly known and respected for our wide range of apprenticeships within automotive, the trades, building services and construction industries.

But this isn’t all we offer! We also offer apprenticeships within health, education, business and much more.

Whatever your individual skills, whether you’re a school leaver or an adult learner looking for a career progression or a change of direction, our amazing apprenticeships team have years of experience under their belts and are sure to be able to point you in the right direction.

Let’s get technical

Our technical and vocational training is even more wide-ranging, covering T Levels and a whole host of specialist qualifications from Entry Level to Level 5.

As a relatively new qualification, T Levels are less familiar to many but becoming increasingly popular. The T is for technical.

The full-time, two-year Level 3 post-GCSE qualification combines in-class learning and real-life work experience – in other words the best of both worlds. You will participate in a 45-day high quality Industrial Placement, linked to the T level you’re studying. For example, if you enrol onto the T level in Health (nursing) your placement may take place in the QA Hospital.

At the end of your two-year T level course you’re able to progress to higher education, a higher apprenticeship or straight into the workplace in your chosen career.

In summary, you spend 80% of the course in the classroom, learning the essential skills you need and the other 20% getting hands-on experience in a relevant industry placement.

We offer T Levels in engineering & manufacturing, management & administration, digital support services, education & early years and health & nursing.

There are more on the way – watch this space!

If you don’t feel ready to start a T Level but have the potential to progress onto one in the future then you could also consider a one-year Level 2 transition study programme to help you develop the skills, experience, knowledge and behaviours you need.

Our technical and vocational qualifications provide a fantastic route to apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships, university or employment.

The choice of courses we offer is unrivalled in the region, ranging from bricklaying to beauty therapy, creative media to catering, esports to IT.

You name it, there’s a strong chance we run a course in it!

Our fabulous facilities include a fully kitted out hospital ward, professional catering kitchens, a TV studio, performance theatres, sports centres, automotive area and all-new hair, barbering & beauty salons. The investment never stops.

Our academic options include A Levels and a good selection of other applied vocational subjects. You can mix and match to make up an interesting and appropriate programme of study, all linked to your future university and career aspirations.

The academic route is offered at our specialist Sixth Form Campus located on Tangier Road. Our timetable is structured to meet your needs, starting at 10am and finishing by 4pm. There’s a great sense of community at our sixth form, and you will join over 1500 other sixth form students. It’s a brilliant way to make new friends and get involved with many of our exciting wider enrichment activities.

If you’re thinking about going to university, then A Levels, or other Level 3 qualifications, are essential.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what you’d like to do, studying a selection of A Levels can be a good way of keeping your options open.

Along with apprenticeships, vocational/technical and academic courses, we also have an extremely active Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) department to help you learn by doing.

Real-life activities include working within our own enterprises, becoming independent travellers and gaining employability skills. It’s all about improving your confidence and life chances.

Here for you

 If your results turn out to be not as you expected, don’t worry, we can help you with making the right choices. My next blog later in the summer will talk more about what you need to do once you have your GCSE results.

Still not sure? Don’t worry. We have an excellent careers team, and specialist advice and guidance teams. Everyone at City of Portsmouth of college is here to help you; ready, able and willing to help answer any of your questions including on financial support, travel and all other things college related. Everyone is friendly and approachable, they’re always on hand with lots of helpful information.

We recognise that leaving school and going to college is an important next step. With all the options, the choice is better than ever.

Whatever you choose, our fantastic lecturers are well-placed to pass on the benefit of their expertise.

Not only do they come with plenty of real-world experience, they also share a passion for inspiring and motivating students in richly diverse and engaging ways.

What’s more you can be sure that we’re here to support you throughout your own personal journey.

Talk to us, we’re here for you, and you’ll be surprised to find it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Come and find your brilliance at COPC!

Katy Quinn

Principal and CEO

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