Work experience, traineeships, apprenticeships

As a young person you will need to make decisions about the next steps of your education or training options, as you move through secondary school. 

You may decide that staying on at school or going to college is not what you want to do and you would like to look at other alternatives to develop your skills or work whilst you learn for example traineeships or apprenticeships.        

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When you can leave school

You can legally leave school on the last Friday in June as long as you will be 16 years old by the end of that year’s summer holidays.

You must however stay in some form of education or training until your 18th birthday.

This could be:

  • staying on in full time education or in a study programme (you can find out more about post-16 full time education options in this article)
  • volunteering or work experience (which is defined as 20 hours or more a week) with part time study
  • training with some additional study for example traineeship or internships
  • paid work with on the job training, for example, an apprenticeship  

If you did not get a grade 4-9 in your GCSE English and maths at school, then you must continue to study this at your chosen post 16 provision.  You may be able to study functional skills or other qualifications in these subjects if it is more appropriate.

Functional skills are practical skills in English, mathematics and information and communication technology (ICT) that allow individuals to operate confidently, effectively and independently in life and work.

If you are not sure what direction to take and would like further reading careerpilot website has some information that can help you think about your options.

If you have a special educational need you may find the following education and employment pathways guides helpful.  

Work experience and volunteering

Work experience and volunteering are a good opportunity to find out if you will enjoy the career options you have chosen.

If you are aged between 16 and 19, you should be offered the opportunity to undertake work experience as part of your post-16 education.

You may be given the opportunity to have a work experience placement before you reach 16 which takes place during term time and with the support of your school.

Volunteering is a great way to be part of the local community, meet new people and help others.  You can volunteer at any time and you normally arrange it yourself, or your parents or carer can arrange it for you.

You can find further information about volunteering on the CVS volunteer centres website

You can find more information about volunteering on the career pilot website

If you are aged between 16 and 25, you can access support and help from an employment support mentor via the Works4Youth service.  They can help you find work, training or start your own business. Contact 01454 865009 or email


The aim of traineeships is to help you gain the skills and experience you need to go on to an apprenticeship or work.

Traineeships are available to young people up to age 24 (25 for young people with an education, health and care plan) who are not currently in work, have little work experience and want to get into work.

Traineeships may be suitable for:

  • those aged 16-18 and qualified below Level 3
  • those aged 19-24 and have not yet achieved their first full Level 2 qualification such as a GCSE or equivalent
  • those aged 16-24 year who have a reasonable chance of being ready for employment or an apprenticeship within six months of starting a traineeship

Traineeships include work preparation training, English and/or mathematics and a work placement.  Traineeships last a minimum of six weeks and a maximum of six months. They must include a work placement, which lasts at least six weeks and no more than five months.

You will not be paid but you may be given expenses for things like travel and meals.

You can find further information on traineeships for young people on the (government) website and careerpilot website.

You can also find out what traineeship opportunities are available on the (government) website

Internships and supported internships

Internships are structured study programmes based primarily with an employer. Internships normally last for a year and include unpaid work placements of at least six months.  Wherever possible, they support you to move into paid employment

You can read more about internships on careerpilot website and on all about careers website

Supported Internships: If you have a special education need and an education health care plan aged 16-24 you may be able to access supported internships which are designed to enable you to achieve sustainable, paid employment by giving you the skills and support needed for workplace learning.  Read more about supported internships at South Gloucestershire Stroud College and at Bristol City College

You can also read about young people's experiences of supported internships and find accessible fact sheets on the National development team for inclusion website.

Choices 4 U service provides opportunities for people with learning difficulties from the age of 16.  


Apprenticeships teach you the skills you need to perform well in your job.  They allow you to learn practical skills in your workplace, build up valuable knowledge and skills, gain qualifications and earn money at the same time.

As an employee, you will be based in a workplace, as most of the training takes place on the job.  You will usually attend off-the-job training and you could be working towards a qualification, such as National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), other nationally recognised qualifications or a certificate of achievement.

If you decided not to go to university, you can complete a higher level and degree apprenticeships which are available at levels 4–7.  These programmes combine work and off-the-job learning which can lead to foundation degree, standard degree or professional qualifications in your chosen career.

All apprenticeships must last a minimum of 12 months and some can take up to four years to complete.  The length of an apprenticeship varies depending on your skill level, the qualification you wish to achieve and the industry sector of the apprenticeship.

There are over 200 different types of apprenticeships available in a wide range of sectors including: 

  • Business, administration and law
  • Health, public services and social care
  • Education and training
  • Information, communication and technology (ICT)
  • Construction, planning and the built environment
  • Arts, media and publishing
  • Leisure, travel and tourism
  • Hospitality and catering
  • Retail and commercial enterprise
  • Agriculture, horticulture and animal care
  • Engineering and manufacturing technologies

You will be paid during an apprenticeship and can find information about apprenticeships pay and conditions, different types of apprenticeships and steps to become an apprentice on the following websites (government) website and careerpilot website.

Visit the council's webpage to find information on apprenticeships with South Gloucestershire Council.