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6 Ways To Avoid University – But Still Get A Good Job

30 Jun 2015

If you are looking for alternatives to university, for whatever reason, then it doesn’t mean that you’ll wind up stuck in a dead end job with no career prospects.Alternatives To University

While UCAS Clearing is now open for anyone still hoping to start a degree this September, university simply isn’t the right path for some people – they didn’t get the grades, they can’t afford it, they don’t fancy more studying in the library, they don’t want to move away from home, etc, etc, etc – but there are still plenty of ways into a good job and even a great career without finishing a degree.

If you play your cards right, you could be earning over £9,000 a year instead of shelling out £9,000 a year for further education. Let’s face it, famous rich and successful people like Jamie Oliver, Mark Zuckerberg, Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Lord Sugar never completed a degree when they were young, so it’s still possible to get right to the top of the tree without a degree to decorate your CV.

With A Level results due out in just a few weeks time, let’s take a look at some of the options available for young people in the UK who don’t want (or can’t) to go to university…

Alternatives To University


If you aren’t cut out for the academic world of university, then maybe an apprenticeship could be the perfect route into a career for someone like you.

With an apprenticeship you can earn while you learn. You’ll be working side by side with people who already know the job inside out, and you can usually study towards an NVQ (don’t be scared, it’s usually only one day a week) with some backing from your employer.

Apprenticeships can last for anything between 12 months and 4 years, and there’s often a good chance that you’ll be offered a permanent job with the company once you’ve completed; in fact, around 7 in 10 apprentices end up staying with their current employer after their apprenticeship is over. And, even if there isn’t a full time job available with your employer when you finish your apprenticeship, you’ll still have earned some decent money while learning new skills to stand you in better stead for the future.

Open to over 16 years of age, there are now tons of different sorts of apprenticeships to suit the skills and talents of almost every male and female (women account for more than half of all apprentices). Over 150 sectors of the business world, from Aeronautics to Zoology, now offer apprenticeships – and there are more than 1,500 different types of job descriptions for you to choose from as an apprentice.

You can find out much more detailed information about apprenticeships in these articles:

What Is An Apprenticeship?

Is An Apprenticeship Right For Me?

Health & Beauty Apprenticeships

Hairdressing Apprenticeships

There is also a whole lot of information for potential apprentices on the excellent http://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/

School Leaver Programmes

School Leaver Programmes are for students aged 18 and over and usually run for between one year and five years, and similar to an apprenticeship, there is often the chance to work towards a qualication whilst you are earning and learning on the job.

Although they haven’t been around anywhere near as long as apprenticeships, some of the big companies (eg Tesco, KPMG and Grant Thornton) are already offering School Leaver Programmes and many small and medium sized businesses are jumping on board too.

If you aren’t quite sure what the difference is between the two options we’ve already given you – and which one might be right for you – then please check out our article about Apprenticeships vs School Leaver Programmes.


Traineeships are an even newer development in the careers field for young people, only being introduced in the middle of 2013. Their aims are similar to apprenticeships and school leaver programmes in that they are designed to get young people into work if further education isn’t an option for them.

Traineeships are run by the UK government and typically last anywhere from six weeks to six months, making them the shortest option if you don’t fancy going to university. They are for young people aged between 16 and 23 (or 25 in certain circumstances).

For more info on this alternative to university, see our comprehensive article about UK Traineeships.

Other Entry Level Jobs As An Alternative To University

Apart the special schemes already mentioned, there are also thousands of other companies offering a wide variety of roles where you don’t need any previous work experience to land a job – and many of them might not necessarily require exceptional GCSE or A Level results.

So, if you don’t want to go to uni and you are ready to head straight into the world of work instead, then we have tons of other opportunities for you to consider. We have dedicated entry level jobs pages split off into most larger towns and cities in the UK so that you can zone right in on the opportunities in your particular area.

If this is your alternative to university, then check out the latest vacancies in our Entry Level Jobs section now.

Start Your Own Business

Maybe you have  a special talent or an amazing idea for a business that you could run yourself. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world started their businesses because they didn’t want to go to university for further education.

Maybe you think that it costs a lot of money to start your own business, but lots of great ideas have started as very small enterprises and grown into huge scalable businesses.

And, even if your particular business idea would need quite a lot of money to get it off the ground, there is often finance assistance out there to get you started. Apart from bank loans or borrowing from your parents, there are also government-backed schemes and other ways to get the funds you need to start your own business.

As a useful starting point if this is an alternative option to uni for you, check out this guide on Gov.uk and have a look over the Princes Trust website.

Take A Gap Year

Maybe you just need to get away from it all for a while…

Take a year out before you decide that university isn’t the right option for you. A gap year can be a really rewarding way to spend a good few months trying new experiences and learning new things. You could just go off travelling and work ad hoc around the world to pay for your expenses, or you could find a long term gap year opportunity in one place with good pay and free accommodation and food. Another option is to work as a volunteer, either in the UK or abroad.

The opportunities are pretty endless for gap year experiences – but make sure you don’t just waste twelve months doing nothing as a university alternative. If you do your research then you can use a gap year wisely to be much more employable at the end of it – or, over the period, you might even decide that perhaps a stint at university doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all….

For more insights into how young people can get into the world of work in the UK, don’t forget to subscribe to this blog to be the first to know about our future careers advice. Simply pop your email address into the subscribe box at the top right of this page and we’ll keep you in the loop about how to find the best jobs in your area.

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