Further education – the next step for your child?

As children approach the end of formal education, it’s a time full of big decisions. They might want to complete A-Levels, go to university, but if they are not sure yet what to do, further education could be the answer.

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At the recent Big Bang Fair in London, Automobile engineering was one of the areas preferred by boys in particular. And it’s an industry that is expanding and requires new engineers every year.
Experts at the Big Bang fair were encouraging children to become engineers to have better chances in finding employment in the future. Take a look at this video of kids teaching HYUNDAI a lesson in quality testing. Kids are very responsive to experimenting with technology and science. It’s nice to see that a company like HYUNDAI has taken the kids’ challenge and offered the opportunity to test the quality of a new vehicle.

Looking to the future

As children approach their GCSEs and the end of formal education, it can be hard to see where the time has gone. It’s a time full of big decisions. They might be keen to complete their A-Levels, with anticipation of university to come, however, if they are a little unsure as to which road to take, further education could be the answer.


You may be surprised to learn that there is more to further education than beauty and bricklaying courses – it’s a successful and varied sector that can help your child to make the most of their talents, putting them on the path to success. Recent research asked employers about their thoughts on further education. It revealed that they prefer recruits who have been through FE as they are seen as more prepared than their peers who have left school, with a better attitude, more experience of the working world, and have a stronger sense of motivation. Looking to their own careers, more than two in five employers in London (42%) believe that their own FE qualifications have contributed to their success to date. Proven to deliver high quality training for learners, further education can provide your child with the knowledge and skills to tackle today’s demanding job market.


Further education – what is it?

Further education (FE) is a huge sector – despite almost 350 colleges and over 1,000 training organisations offering further education around the country, many parents don’t have a full understanding of the opportunities it can provide their children and how it can help them to develop for the future.


Further education includes learning in colleges (as an alternative to school at 16-19), work-based learning through a private provider or a college, and in a wider sense, any learning that takes place not in school or university. As such, it covers an extensive range of qualifications, including programmes such as Apprenticeships.


Further education engages with over three million people each year, 80% of whom go on to work or further learning and 42% of all 16-19 year-old education takes place in the further education system. Despite these statistics, many parents don’t consider FE as a valid and positive educational option for their child, perhaps because of outdated perceptions of the sector – the reality is that FE has a lot to offer.

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A focus on Apprenticeships

There is a wealth of qualifications available – perhaps your child is interested in completing an NVQ or BTEC qualification or maybe they’d like to take on Apprenticeship? Thanks to Government funding, Apprenticeships are on the rise. Statistics show that 520,600 people began an Apprenticeship in 2011/12 alone, an increase of 14% compared to the previous year. There are now over 250 types of Apprenticeships available to young people, from engineering to business administration to customer service to retail.


The sheer range of industries that offer apprenticeships is often new to parents. For the mum of London production assistant apprentice, Nana, she had no idea that the creative sector offered them:

“I was more familiar with the college and university route, and I thought Apprenticeships were only relevant to a few industries, not something like design. But Nana educated me about them. She’s had the chance to develop real, work-based skills and find a route that works for her. It’s her dream to run a successful business, and I’d love to see her achieve it.”

We also spoke to Krista Brown, Managing Director of Persona HR, in Walthamstow, which has employed 135 apprentices since 2010:

“Our apprentices have a great sense of humour, they come to us with a fresh-headed approach and no preconceived ideas, and they keep us up to date with current trends… we offer them stability, reliability, consistency and, most importantly, the chance to achieve real money and real qualifications in a real workplace.”

As a mum, the range of qualifications can be tricky to navigate so there are tools to help such as Which Way Now, which outlines the options available as well as funding opportunities such as the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund. As further education goes from strength to strength, there has never been a better time for you and your child to consider it as the next step in their lives.

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To explore further education options for your child, visit the National Careers Service website at nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk. To find out more about Apprenticeships specifically, visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk.


The FE and Skills Communication Group has launched a campaign to promote the benefits of further education. By collaborating with partners across the sector we aim to transform perceptions of FE, ensuring that its reputation matches the reality of FE and learning and skills.



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