Apprenticeships Vs. A-Levels

By Dayna Spear, November 09, 2017

Hi everyone - I hope you’re all well!

Today’s blog post is very similar to last weeks (Apprenticeships vs University.) However, this week we’re focusing on A-Levels.

Many people forget that you can actually jump straight from school into an apprenticeship - they're not just available after college. You don’t have to do A-Levels like you do with GCSE’s, and apprenticeships are totally valid alternatives, as they are to uni.

So, since I went to sixth-form college and completed my A-Levels, I think I have enough experience and wisdom (who am I kidding?) to compare the two, and hopefully help anyone make a decision about their next step! So, let’s get down to business.

The Learning

The learning with A-Levels is very different to an apprenticeship. If you’re currently in school and unsure about the next step, my advice is to listen to yourself. If you despise school, I really wouldn’t recommend A-Levels - the workload is significantly harder and much more demanding!

Comparing it to an apprenticeship: I’m working every day, but have a ‘college day’ every Friday where I work towards the qualification I get with the apprenticeship.

So, as learning goes, the two offer completely different types of learning, and it’s totally a personal preference of how you like to learn. Apprenticeship learning is based on work experience, whereas A-Levels are classroom learning focused, similarly to school.

Time Off

Time off with your A-Levels is pretty much the same (if not more) than school! You generally get the standard Christmas, Summer and Easter holidays off, as well as half terms.

The bonus with A-Levels is that you finish the school year for Summer earlier than schools do - wahey.

With an apprenticeship, you’re in full-time work. Generally, your weekends are free as well as bank holidays, and you get holiday pay just like any other employee would!

It might be a shock to the system of a school-leaver to jump straight to an apprenticeship, but it’s definitely something you can get used to easily.

Social Life

Social life doing A-Levels is pretty much how you’d expect it to be at school, except probably… more. I do have a way with words!

You get the opportunity to meet new people at college as well as having the newly discovered ‘free periods’ where you’re essentially allowed to do what you want (studying, of course.) Mine consisted of lazing around in the sixth-form cafe eating chips - probably not the best use of my free time.

Obviously with an apprenticeship it’s very different - you’re in full-time work rather than a school environment, so the social side of it will be unlike your school days. However, you get the chance to socialise in your work environment and bond with your colleagues - if you see yourself as a more mature student, perhaps an apprenticeship is better suited to you.

Subject Choice

When it comes to choosing what you want to learn, I’d say the choices are pretty vast for both A-Levels and apprenticeships.

The main difference is that with an apprenticeship, you’re working towards one career, whereas with A-Levels, you study up to 4 subjects at a time.

There are hundreds of different apprenticeships you could take up - they boast a range of industries, including: finance, cookery, beauty, education, health, and SO much more. There will soon be even more choice, as the government has pledged to create a further three million apprenticeships in the coming 3 years.

With A-Levels, there are also lots of options for you, and you get to choose more than one, which is ideal for someone who isn’t 100% sure what they want to do.

However, if you’re someone who is certain they know which career path they want to go down, I’d totally suggest an apprenticeship. It’s an ideal way to get your foot in the door early on!


Money is an important factor for many people.

With an apprenticeship, you are paid for your work, whilst also working towards a valuable qualification.

Yes, A-levels are free, but you won’t necessarily have the opportunity to earn a proper wage; if you then choose to go on to university, the fees are notoriously burdening. Take a look at our blog post focusing on Apprenticeships vs. University if you'd like to find out more!

Take your time to research - ask people who have done both apprenticeships and A-Levels for guidance and advice; or, feel free to contact me on any of our social platforms. I love to chat!

Speak next week!

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