Information for parents and carers

Helping your child make the right career choices

As a a parent, carer or guardian, you can help inspire and influence your child by supporting them in finding career opportunities that are right for them. Things you could do to help your child make their post 16 choices:

  • Encourage your child to think carefully about their skills, interests and ambitions and help them to translate these into potential employment possibilities for the future. Careers East Sussex has lots of information about different job sectors and profiles of different types of jobs. 
  • Make sure that you and your child attend your school’s Post 16 Options event - usually held in the Autumn Term of Year 11.
  • Suggest that your child looks at the Choices After Year 11 page.

A comprehensive range of information about the education choices available to your child at the end of Year 11 is available on the Young People page under 'Your Choices at 16' or you can look at specific sections about:

  • A Levels,
  • Apprenticeships
  • T Levels
  • Vocational qualifications

Gaining more qualifications after 16 is a good idea as more qualifications mean more job choices. Young people are, therefore, more likely to find a job they enjoy rather than taking the risk of having to do unskilled work. Better qualifications will give your child a chance to earn more money – and, research shows, have greater job satisfaction.

Lots of young people choose to do A Levels and these are excellent general qualifications that are valued by employers and also universities. A Levels offer a great route to degree level study, but there are also routes to higher education from the  vocational qualifications offered in colleges and in some schools.

A Levels give young people a chance to find out about their GCSE subjects in greater depth or do one of the subjects that many schools and colleges only offer at A Level such as Law, Economics or Psychology. It is possible to combine vocational qualifications such as BTEC Level 3 qualifications or OCR qualifications with A Levels. These qualifications attract UCAS points (many universities indicate the number of UCAS points needed for entry to their courses) in the same way as A Levels.

A Levels are now assessed:

  • Only at the end of the course
  • Assessment is mostly through exams

At 16 your child could choose to study towards a vocational qualification.

Vocational qualifications offer practical learning programmes that relate to specific job roles or employment sectors.

There are many different types of vocational qualifications in a wide range of subjects at all levels.

Vocational courses are designed to help young people learn in a practical way about a specific job area - helping them to get the skills needed to start a job, progress in a career or go on to higher levels of education.

Vocational qualifications include:

  • Vocational subjects that are related to a broad employment area such as business, engineering, IT, health and social care
  • Vocational courses that lead to specific jobs such as hairdressing, accounting, professional cookery, plumbing
  • Apprenticeships that are 'work-related' where you will be trained for a job role and get paid as you learn.
  • T Levels that lead to a specific job role and are equivalent to 3 A Levels.

T Levels are new two year Level 3 qualifications - equivalent to 3 x A level

  • They lead to a specific occupation and are available in a whole range of different areas, from Cyber Security to Wildlife Management. 
  • They have been designed by professional bodies, employers and universities so that they are relevant and up to date. 
  • They include at least 3 months work experience and opportunity to build transferable skills and knowledge related to the job area. 

Students can progress from a T Level on to apprenticeships, jobs and university. 

Who are they for? 

They are for 16 - 19 year olds who want to focus on developing the skills and knowledge required for a specific occupation or job sector.   

What T levels are being offered? 

The T levels that are currently available are: 

  • Education and Childcare, 
  • Construction: design, 
  • Surveying and planning 
  • Construction: on site - carpentry, plastering, painting and decorating, bricklaying 
  • Digital Production Digital Business Services Digital Support Services 
  • Health - Health Care Health Science Science 

These T levels are being introduced in 2022: 


  • Finance and Accounting 
  • Business and Administration 
  • Engineering and Manufacturing

You can find out all about Apprenticeships on our Apprenticeships Page

Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to:

  • gain an insight into the reality of working in a job area;
  • to develop the skills required to work in that type of employment;
  • get paid while they learn

Your child would also have an improved chance of getting a job at the end of the apprenticeship - research shows that around 90% of apprentices stay in work on completion of their training and 71% of apprentices stay with the same employer.

There is a wide range of different apprenticeships in almost every type of work - although not all options are available in every job sector - some young people might find that they need to travel or, sometimes, temporarily move location to undertake the apprenticeship they have chosen. Competition for some of the more popular apprenticeship placements is intense. 

If they don’t have any GCSEs in English and Maths they will normally need to complete functional skills qualifications as part of your apprenticeship programme.

If your child is aged 16 to 24 and not quite ready to start an apprenticeship, they could consider a Traineeship. Traineeships are designed to help young people who want to get an apprenticeship or job, but don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience. Traineeships aim to prepare young people for their future careers by helping them to become ‘work ready’. 

It will provide them with the skills and experience employers expect. Traineeships training and work placements last up to 5 months, with a guaranteed interview at the end.

The Freedom Ticket and the 3i-D for under 19s

If your child lives, studies or works in East Sussex and is aged under 19, they can apply for a 3i-D card which gives them proof of ID so they can purchase a Freedom ticket. The Freedom Ticket offers unlimited travel on nearly every bus* in East Sussex for seven days in a row, including weekends. The Freedom ticket is £17.50 per week (valid as of 1 September 2021) and is issued on the bus as a paper ticket only.

*Please contact the bus operator before travelling to ensure they issue and accept the Freedom Ticket.

To find out more about other discounts and applying for the ID card visit the 3i-D card webpage.

Help is available to support young people for whom money worries are a problem.

If your child is aged 16 - 19 and would struggle to afford the costs of full-time education or training, they may be eligible to receive a £1,200 bursary.

Find out more on our Financial support for further education page.

We have developed an online resource for parents and carers to support them with the planning and preparation for their young people's transition into post-16 and adulthood. This can be found on our Local Offer website here.