Young people are being encouraged to look at all options when they leave school.
East Durham College is offering advice to students who are finishing Year 11 and looking at which route to go down next.
Principal Suzanne Duncan said: “A-levels aren’t the only route to a university course and great career once you’ve left Year 11.
“Along with A-levels, vocational study programmes and apprenticeships are also proven pathways into higher education and a host of fantastic careers.
“At East Durham College, like many other further education colleges, we pride ourselves on providing top quality education in all three of these areas. And we fully believe that each route is as important as the other, offering different students a different way to learn that suits them best.
“Vocational qualifications are offered in many subject areas, over 30 at East Durham College alone, across different qualification levels. These qualifications combine traditional classroom-based study alongside practical training, giving students the opportunity to learn the core skills needed in the workplace.
“The skills and knowledge gained on these qualifications are also transferable to higher education courses, with all universities accepting them as part of their entry requirements.”
In an advice column for Peterlee Business Park’s education themed Careerwise newsletter, produced by LEC Consultancy working with careers advisor Richard Allnutt from Careerwave, Suzanne also looked at the benefits of apprenticeships.
She added: “Apprenticeships are a brilliant way of learning and they give you a direct view into the world of work.
“All apprenticeships are real jobs, so all apprentices earn a salary at least in line with the government’s minimum wage. Most of the training is delivered in the workplace, so you will learn the skills you need to do the job well. The rest of the training is given by a training organisation, such as a college.
“With the recent growth of higher and degree apprenticeships, you also now have a real alternative to traditional university study, with the opportunity to move your career forward, gain professional skills, status and accreditation – all whilst in a job and earning a salary.
“And of course the ‘academic’ route is still an important pathway for a great many students – AS and A-levels are still the most popular route into higher education in the UK.
“I strongly recommend you fully explore all three options before making the final decision on what you plan to do after Year 11.”