Post-18 education: where students go next and why

Post-18 education: where students go next and why


All post-18 school leavers have the same choice of routes to work: university, an apprenticeship or straight into the workplace. A recent analysis of students’ next steps however reveals what influences those choices and why they differ. 

Recent analysis reveals that disadvantaged students are least likely to enter higher education, more young men than women choose apprenticeships and white students are most likely to enter employment.

Disadvantaged students less likely to enter higher education

A recent article by Prospects Luminate, a source of student and graduate labour market information, looks at the Department of Education’s ‘Destinations of key stage four and key stage five students’ data for England in 2016/17 and reaches a number of conclusions with regards to students next steps after 16-18 studies. 

For example, since 2010/11, students in London have favoured higher education the most, seeing an additional qualification as the most advantageous way to secure opportunities in the jobs market. In 2016/17, half of the cohort is seen to be in higher education, with 7% in further education and 3% in other. Comparing regions, 59% of those where found to be in higher education in London, 41% in the South West and 46% in the South East.

The popularity of higher education reflects the 69% of respondents to Milkround’s Candidate Compass Report who stated they had always intended to go to university. Prospect’s Early Careers Survey also reveals 85.4% of school and college students have a strong preference for university.

Both genders almost equally prefer higher education as a pathway to employment, with 53% of females and 48% of males expressing this opinion. 

Most notably, those classified as being ‘disadvantaged’ were less likely to enter higher education (46%) than those ‘non-disadvantaged’ (51%). A higher percentage of these students were also found in further education (7% compared with 10% for all other students).

Males still dominate apprenticeships

While apprenticeships previously suffered from academic elitism, the UK is set to see a rise in their number. That is influenced by the rise of degree apprenticeships, the focus on improving standards and the Government’s plan to reach 3 million apprentices by 2020.  

Apprenticeships are an attractive alternative to university as they offer financial support and valuable work experience. Apprentices responding to the Early Careers Survey said it was 'another way into the field of work while gaining real life experience' and 'a great alternative to a degree without the debt'. Some chose an apprenticeship because of unsurety about university, while others saw it as an opportunity to explore their chosen career path in more depth.

In 2016/17, just 6% of KS5 leavers engaged in an apprenticeship.

The challenge of promoting apprenticeships is overcoming the stigma that has grown attached to them. Employers feel this is not tackled enough in schools and educating young people could increase figures by helping to make informed career decisions. 

Apprenticeships continue to be male dominated, with 8% in this type of work for at least six months compared with 5% of females. Men were also more likely to pursue level three and four apprenticeships than females.

Regionally, those in the North East (10%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (8%) were more likely to take up an apprenticeship than those in London (4%).

White students are most likely to enter employment

Of all the ethnic groups, white students are most likely to go into employment at 25%. Those of mixed ethnic origin has the second highest rate at 18%. In contrast, Chinese students were least likely to enter employment (5%) with 84% preferring to continue education.

Overall, those entering employment were the second largest student segment at 22%. Regionally, that breaks down into 29% in the South West, 27% in the South East and 25% in the East of England. Just 14% in London and 17% in the North East entered employment directly.

Those classified as being disadvantaged were less likely to enter employment (20%) than all other students (20%).

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Share this article

Any questions? Any comments?

Your instant reactions to this article can be posted here.

Be the first to make a comment...