Planning your next steps after College

As you turn 18, you’re ready to embark on your future career and an even broader array of decisions await. You can opt to continue your studies full-time, part-time or online with University or Higher Education College. Enhance your expert knowledge and gain practical skills in your chosen profession through a higher or degree apprenticeship. Or even continue with your academic or vocational studies part-time whilst volunteering or completing a work placement.

Like many young people, you may be ready to leave education behind and enter the world of work. Whether your first job is your dream job, or simply a stepping stone to other things, you’ll have the opportunity to learn valuable new skills and develop your expertise for the future. Whilst lots of employers offer on-the-job training, don’t forget there’s still a range of free adult courses you can take advantage of to continue learning, boost your career prospects and help you transition into employment. So start exploring your options and get ready for the exciting future that awaits.

students discussion

Career Guides

Higher Education & University

Heading off to university to study a foundation or bachelors degree is still an incredibly popular choice after finishing college or sixth form. A university experience provides a rich and immersive environment and the chance to delve deep into your chosen field of study. Engage in thought-provoking lectures, collaborative projects and a vibrant campus life. University not only opens doors to diverse career opportunities, but also fosters personal growth, independence and a lifelong love for learning.

Alternatively, you can continue your studies at degree-level by opting to attend a Higher Education College and study an equivalent qualification such as a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND). These qualifications combine rigorous academic study with practical, industry-specific skills providing a direct route into specialised qualifications. HE colleges offer a focused and supportive learning environment, often with strong connections to employers, ensuring your education is tailored to the demands of the workplace.

Stockport employer insights

Day-in-the-Life Videos

Browse our range of employer videos to get inspired by local residents showcasing their careers in Stockport businesses.

Higher & Degree Apprenticeships

After finishing college, sixth form or completing an apprenticeship, you might be considering embarking on a higher or degree apprenticeship. Now proving a popular alternative to university with the opportunity to gain industry experience and earn whilst you learn, they offer a direct link to an employer and position you on a fast track to a successful and rewarding career.

Higher Apprenticeships are available at a Level 4 (equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree or HNC) and Level 5 (equivalent to a foundation degree or HND). These programs, often in collaboration with top-tier employers, provide a structured pathway to attain a degree-level qualification without the traditional university route.

Degree Apprenticeships allow you to gain a full undergraduate or master’s degree (Levels 6 and 7) whilst spending most of your time working for leading employers and studying part-time at University. Often seen as offering the best of both worlds, you’ll benefit from a structured curriculum that integrates academic learning with hands-on application in a professional setting.

Resources for students

Student Advice & Wellbeing

Making decisions about your future and handling big life changes can feel overwhelming at times. Here in Stockport, there are a range of support services available to provide advice, support your wellbeing and help get your career on track.

Employment and Training

Choosing to enter the workforce at 18 offers exciting opportunities for independence, personal growth and career success. It’s your opportunity to try out different jobs and industries outside of the classroom and apply what you’ve learnt so far – whether it’s your dream job or simply a stepping stone to future endeavours. You can opt to work part-time, full-time, on a voluntary basis or even start your own business. Here in Stockport there’s plenty of big brand names and SME employers, a vibrant voluntary and social enterprise sector, plus support for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Don’t forget that the learning doesn’t have to stop when you leave full-time education. If you’re not ready for a job just yet, or whilst you’re looking, there’s a range of free adult courses on offer – from skills bootcamps and pre-employment programmes to vocational courses and e-learning.