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Young Professionals Forum

Choices at 18

18 is another key milestone in a young person’s life. Do you want to go on to university? Or would you prefer to start work and get training while you earn?

  • What options are available?
  • Research career pathways
  • Apprenticeships
  • Direct Entry to Employment
  • Novus
  • University
  • Logistics and transport careers websites
  • Government websites
  • General careers and advice websites

There are a number of options open to 18 year olds; going to university straightaway is not the only pathway.  You could take a gap year and defer university for a year – though you need to make sure that you do something that will look good on your CV, not just take a 12-month break to lounge around.  There are apprenticeship opportunities at 18 so you can earn and learn at the same time.  Alternatively, you could simply get a full-time job which will include on-the-job training often combined with studying for a formal vocational or professional qualification. 

With the increased cost of going to university many young people will be considering alternatives routes into employment.  Many employers have increased the numbers of formal training programmes available to those leaving school at 18.  For example, accountancy firms often have trainee programmes open to those who have just completed A-levels/Highers, and not just the large accountancy firms either so it’s worth doing some research in your area to see if any local firms are offering opportunities.  It is worth noting that accountancy can be a good route into supply chain management roles.  However, accountancy is not the only trainee pathway open to 18-year olds, many other sectors offer similar opportunities such as logistics, retail, manufacturing, construction and hospitality, which will offer logistics and supply chain roles. 

Making sure you research the full range of opportunities available is the key to making the right decision for you at this stage in your life.

By 18, many young people may still not have a definite idea what they want to do with their life but they should be giving it some serious thought.  If you are still undecided, think about your favourite subjects and discuss with your teacher potential careers that might suit you.  Think about other skills and interests outside school.  It is important to do some research – check if your school has a careers library or can provide access to careers advice and information. Parents can be a useful source of guidance and advice.  

It is your life that you are planning so be sure that you’re not doing something simply to keep people happy.  Focus on what interests you and remember, it is not a lifelong commitment – you can change career paths at a later stage.  Indeed many people nowadays have “portfolio” careers and end undertaking a variety of roles during their working lives.

However, if you already have a career in mind it is sensible to check if there are any specific qualification entry requirements.  Is there a Sector Skills Council, professional body or trade association that looks after your area of interest (a quick Google search will help you locate the relevant organisation). If there is then visit their website as many provide advice on career pathways.

The internet is an invaluable resource – you just need to hone your search skills to get the most out of it.

There are apprenticeship opportunities in logistics and transport-related occupations, so it is worth visiting the apprenticeship websites to see what is available (there are separate sites for each of the four nations):

Most companies have jobs suitable for those leaving at 18 and there are some recruitment agencies that specialise in helping young people find their first job – just search the internet to find a local specialist.

It is important to look for employers that will support career development.  Some companies may have opted not to offer apprenticeships but will offer entry level jobs with the opportunity to undertake vocationally-related qualifications at a local college or by distance learning.

To find job opportunities look at local newspapers – print version and most local newspapers usually have a website too.  Networking is also a good way to find out about potential job opportunities – many jobs are never advertised.

An entry level role is good way to learn about a business.  Logistics and transport employers have a good track record of nurturing talent where they see it.  There are many examples of those now holding senior positions having started on the shop floor as a warehouse operative or similar type role. 

In the resources section of these careers pages you will find some useful links that will help you to identify potential employers in the logistics, supply chain and transport sectors.

Novus is one of our initiatives designed to attract, encourage and increase the numbers of talented young personnel joining the logistics sector  and will guarantee a graduate job after the completion of a four year course; one of those years being an industrial placement.

Placements is a trial service which is currently free to students, graduates and their prospective employers.

This service will become part of our exciting new Academic Partnership Scheme in 2013. Find out more about the new scheme here. When incorporated into the new CILT Academic Partnership Scheme, this service will only be offered to students whose university is a member of the scheme.

View intern placements currently available 


Around 33% of 18 year-olds in the UK decide to continue on to higher education.

You need to check out the universities and the courses and then apply – and the UCAS website can help with each of these stages. 

Remember to check if there are any bursaries, scholarships or grants available that can help to fund your time at university.

To help you on your way, we have compiled a list of first degrees in logistics and transport using the Course Search facility, and the Search by Subject option based on Logistics, Transport, and Supply.

There is a separate information factsheet on applying to university.

  • People 1st and GoSkills merged in July 2011, which means that hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism fall under the same umbrella and can be accessed centrally at – www.people1st.co.uk

The government careers information and guidance websites are organised by nation: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; However, not all the content is country-specific so it’s worth taking a look at all of them.

Some of these websites are aimed at young people in specific countries, however, some of the content will be relevant where you live.

  • www.notgoingtouni.co.uk - A website dedicated to helping school and college leavers make informed decisions about their future by showing the opportunities that exist outside of traditional university such as apprenticeships, sponsored degrees, diplomas, gap years, distance learning and jobs.
  • www.ucas.com - Manages applications to full-time undergraduate higher education courses in the UK.
  • www.push.co.uk  - A light-hearted, but very useful guide to every university in the UK.
  • www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk  - An independent guide to universities in the UK includes information on degree courses, accommodation and general university life.
  • www.bestcourse4me.com - A not-for-profit website that aims to help students make more informed choices about university courses.
  • www.scholarship-search.org.uk  - Searchable website to identify scholarship/funding opportunities
  • www.offa.org.uk/students/introducing-bursaries - Guidance on bursaries in England and some general student finance links here.
  • www.thestudentroom.co.uk - Includes chat and guidance on study options at 18, including help on writing your personal statement for UCAS.
  • www.russellgroup.ac.uk - This site includes some guidance on A-level/Highers options to secure a place at a Russell Group university.
  • www.allaboutcareers.com - Careers information for young people, includes career profiles and video case studies.
  • www.planitplus.net - Developed as resource for careers and learning information in Scotland but has some useful resources for those living outside Scotland.
  • The Times 100 Careers Info - Includes guidance on the range of options at 16, including links to potential employers.
  • www.summerjobs.co.uk - For summer jobs and gap year opportunities.
  • www.summerjobs4students.co.uk - For summer jobs and gap year opportunities.
  • www.gapyear.com - For summer jobs and gap year opportunities.
  • www.thesite.org  - Provides general information on options at 18.
  • www.courses-careers.com - Opportunities in further and higher education together with careers advice, job vacancies, vocational guidance and gap year choices.
  • http://university.which.co.uk/ - Find the course that's right for you. Personalise your search: filter by expected grades, subject interests, fees and more key stats.
  •  Youth Direct - Promotion of entry level jobs, primarily for young people.

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