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“As a millennial, I wish I had had the career guidance on offer to me at school leaving age that there is nowadays, but more still needs to be done to make learning accessible to all.”

More than 12 years ago, in 2009, I went to a local college to gain my A-level qualifications. My college was quite a big one and offered multiple BTEC courses alongside their A-Level offering, which helped you gain vocational skills with your studies but back then there was very little career advice or guidance for those either looking to go to University or looking to go straight into work from school. I literally copied a friend when deciding what course to choose at University for my BA degree – luckily it worked out.

Your school leaving age depends upon where you live but since I went to college, guidance in England for example has changed. You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays but you must then do one of the following until you’re 18:

  • Stay in full-time education, for example at a college
  • Start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • Spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

To mark National Apprenticeship Week which runs 7th – 13th February, we spoke to our community about their thoughts on career prospects and going straight into work from higher education. It’s been a tough few years for lockdown students going to Universities around the globe, with most higher education establishments moving to online learning throughout the course of the pandemic. With this in mind, we were keen to understand if degree qualifications were still valued in the Gen Z age cohort.

71% of our community reported they value training over their college/university education

When asked, of those polled, 71% of our community reported they value training over their college/university education, and 65% of those polled are currently completing their undergraduate degree. That being said, almost two-thirds, 63% believe their dream career requires a degree – which opens up a dilemma for many young people who want to gain experience in the working world but also want to pursue their education.

Everyone has differing experiences in education, and most systems are far from perfect, but the majority consensus from our Imagen Insights Gen Z community, 74%, is that a combination of working and studying sets you up well for future employment. There are many ways Gen Z can gain transferable skills that will bolster their CVs to help open doors to employment opportunities in the future. We’ve listed just a few of them, including us, and some helpful resources below:

  • Volunteering for local charities or clubs
  • Joining sports teams while studying
  • Part-time work that is flexible around your studies – for example, joining our Imagen Insights community!
  • Work experience weeks in the holidays
  • Getting involved in extracurricular activities such as clubs, societies or events – many are free too
  • Working with a mentor to help decipher passions and interests

Handy links:

Check out this piece by Imagen Insights co-founder Cat Agostinho:

Authored by Sinead Lambe, Communications Manager at Imagen Insights