Success looks different for everyone, and this is also true when it comes to making decisions about what to do after school. There are plenty of opportunities for young people to pursue when they leave school but the trend for many is university-based on rising application rates and an increase in course offerings across the UK. University can provide many benefits, including opportunities to network, making friends from across the globe and studying a subject you are passionate about in great depth. Some job roles also require a degree as a minimum for employment, such as doctors, teachers and vets. In some schools, it has become tradition to display photographs of results day, captioned with the grades of those featured and their university destinations. This can be wonderful for those students who want to pursue higher education, but what about those who do not fit into that group?

With undergraduate tuition fees of up to £9250 a year in England and £9000 in Wales, the cost of university is an important consideration. For some, high costs of living and a competitive job market upon graduation are further factors that may be important when deciding if university if right for them. Making an informed decision about post-school options is crucial for our young people.

According to the Times Higher Education, in 2021, 37.9 per cent of the UK’s 18-year-olds had been accepted onto university courses 28 days after A-level results day. University is popular and can be a great option for some young people, but it is not the only option for school leavers. The National Careers Service outlines the range of options for students post formal education and university is only one of many routes available. Apprenticeships, supported internships, volunteering and going straight into employment are options for young people that should not be discredited without first considering the merits of each.

Volunteer your skills and make sure all the options are covered

When it comes to careers, having someone who understands the options that young people have is a great benefit to a school board.

Governors can help ensure that all pupils are given access to the full range of options available to them. By asking questions about careers education and ensuring it caters to all pupils, regardless of their academic ability, governors have the potential to shine a light on the myriad of opportunities out there for school leavers. By doing so, young people can choose a path that suits them best.

Throughout the ‘All pupils, every ambition: Future work’ campaign, Governors for Schools in collaboration with our partners, are holding free webinars to develop your knowledge of careers education in schools. These sessions, in addition to our free resources for governors and schools are ideal ways to engage with this important topic.

Could you be a ‘link governor’ for careers?

In secondary schools, the link governor for careers has a pivotal role in maintaining the connection between the school and the governing board when it comes to careers education. It’s their job to take a strategic interest in careers education and encourage employer engagement. The careers link governor will act as the board’s specialist on careers education and will work with the school’s careers advisor to encourage community links with local businesses. These links could prove valuable work experience and for those young people who don’t feel university is the right choice for them, it provides another avenue to explore.

See our link governor role descriptions for primary and secondary settings for more information.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a governor, visit our website. Apply online and join a local school board to make a difference to young people’s lives.

‘All pupils, every ambition: Future work’ was made possible with the kind support of Allen & Overy.