Let’s look at the options facing many young people as they make big decisions about their future
This year is particularly challenging as there are so many new factors to consider! The cost of living crisis might deter you from heading straight into a career, or the huge debts may feel overwhelming if you head off to University, and the hangover from Covid might make you anxious about travelling. It’s a minefield!
But fear not because TNT is no stranger to these life challenges, we’ve been helping people navigate these big decisions for years, so sit back and let’s have a proper think about this.
So let’s talk about work.
It’s an obvious place to start, because let’s face it ‘money talks!’ The allure of an income that opens doors to other possibilities like cars, holidays and self-sufficient living. That all sounds pretty liberating, doesn’t it? Why get riddled with debt at uni when I can jump straight into a job and start making a life for myself.
But let’s consider the reality and perhaps the long-range life forecast. There are some careers where getting on with it and getting stuck in early will pay off. Many trades (electricians, plumbers, construction etc) are best learnt on the job, and no education pathway can really substitute getting stuck in.
It’s a compelling option too, as I’m yet to find a plumber or sparky who isn’t too busy nor living a pretty comfortable life. On the flip side to that, many entry-level careers offer pretty uninspiring progression or starting salaries, so how do you avoid getting stuck in a rut from the outset? Firstly, pick something you’re good at and actually enjoy. You’re much more likely to progress in a job you love and you have enthusiasm for from the outset, so take your time to explore what interests you or inspires you. Research what the salary expectations are for that role, and what the progression path looks like too.
Then there are apprenticeships where you can combine work and education with some offering degree-level qualifications. This is a rapidly growing market, and you can forget the stigma of the old school apprenticeship schemes of the 80’s and 90’s. These are associated with credible qualifications and aspirational companies to work for, so a really strong option for those who want both an income and an education.
University and higher education
For many the idea of heading off to a new and exciting town or city away from the family and spending a few years working towards a degree can be a most compelling option. It’s been the path to more rewarding careers for centuries, and it’s still an essential option for many jobs.
That is evolving though, as many recruiters look to more than the ability to endure 3 years of liver abuse and writing long dissertations. Even the big consultancies like KPMG are looking to degree apprenticeship schemes to blend practical work experience and further education together to nurture more capable recruits.
For anything other than very specialist career paths, I think really careful consideration must be taken to be sure that the debt incurred through university doesn’t outweigh the earning potential when you get out the other end.
There are far too many universities offering obscure degree courses that many will struggle to apply to a career in the long run. You only need to talk to a few shop workers or bar staff to find many highly educated people struggling to find work in their ideal careers, so bear that in mind before you sign up for a degree course.
F**k it! I’m outta here!
You can’t blame anyone for having this mindset at the moment. The ‘get me out of here’ vibe is raging in all of us at the moment, as we struggle to find any glimmers of summer in the UK and with the country going to shit all around us, it’s logical to just try to escape it all.
We’re never going to deter anyone from travelling the world and exploring far-flung parts of the globe. It’s going to do more benefit to your personal development than any entry-level job or degree lecture. But travel on a shoestring is challenging and potentially miserable if you don’t get your shit together.
If you’re just coming out of your A levels, then unless you’re fortunate to have a generous source of income (ie the bank of Mum and Dad) you’re going to have to do a bit of grafting before you head off and potentially while you’re away in order to pay your way and to get to experience the places you visit.
There are so many work opportunities out there, but not all of them are created equally. There are some real stinkers out there, waiting to prey on desperate backpackers and exploit them.
We’ve heard all the horror stories from farms in the outback piling backpackers into tiny rooms full of beds and forcing them to do massive shifts in the fields for not much more than board and lodgings, so do your research and make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Finally, don’t fret!
As Jeremy Clarkson aptly reminds us each year on his twitter account, he failed his A levels and it didn’t stop him, so whatever choice you make isn’t a wrong one. You’re young, you’ve got your life in front of you. Stop stressing about it, do your research, follow your heart and the rest will fit into place.
We’ve got lots of content about working abroad and backpacker travel destinations on TNT, so use the search bar, it’s your friend!