Alternative study pathways for youth

Employment, gap year, or Further studies? 

This is a conversation I have with so many of the young people who come to see me to gain more clarity about their pathway options. Often, young people and parents believe that the most challenging question is which career path to choose. In actual fact, the ultimate key question is who are you? Self-awareness is the key to working out the best pathway and this is a two-fold exercise that young people should work on over a period of time:  On the one hand, you people need to be exposed to a range of experiences to better understand what it means to be you. This awareness can come from playing a team sport or being part of an after-school group, from having a student job, from volunteering, from talking to older students who have embarked on their pathway, etc. The second part is to understand the options available to you. Imagine these two questions in a van diagram,  the bit in the middle, is where You and the best option merge, here is your answer!

A gap year used to be an appealing option for the adventurous-type young person who wanted to do some growing up and have some fun before embarking on further studies. With the current travel restrictions both internationally and locally, it doesn’t seem like a wise or fun option anymore!

Employment is still a popular option for those who are unsure about what they want to do and that is totally fine; Covid has made the last couple of years of high school challenging and taking a break may be what you need as long as you make the most of your time and that what you do gives you satisfaction.  Much learning and personal growth come from working on the minimum wage (not trying to put you off at all here) but also by spending time in an industry to gain a greater understanding of the career options it could offer you. Employment teaches new skills, but also how to save money and how to be accountable and dependable; but most importantly, you realise how far good work ethic can take you, whether you are clearing tables or working as a bank teller. The positive feedback you receive from your employer will boost your confidence and teach you much about yourself and the world of work.

 A prep year: most tertiary providers offer pre-degree programmes to strengthen your skills and knowledge. This can boost your confidence, give you extra time to decide on the study pathway that interests you the most and it will plug the knowledge gaps you may have from a final year that has been disrupted by lockdowns.

Polytechnic/specialist tertiary providers: smaller tertiary institutions can be a better fit for those who would rather a more personal learning and teaching environment or stay closer to home. You have tertiary providers that specialise in tourism, vet nursing, performing arts, hairdressing, engineering, agriculture, etc So many options!

Cadetships: are becoming a very popular and financially smart way to gain a tertiary qualification and learn on the job. A cadetship allows you to earn and gain valuable experience in your field of interest while studying part-time towards a tertiary qualification. A win-win!

Apprenticeships: are also very popular as you work full time, learn, and get assessed on the job. This is a great option for those who like to earn a living straight sway, are”doers’ rather than “note-takers”! Usually, they prefer to learn by watching how it’s done and get assessed by showing they can do it!

University: If you feel ready and excited at the thought of embarking on a university pathway but you are unsure about how to structure your studies, get in touch. There are many options of degrees, majors, double majors, minors, etc. If it sounds overwhelming, get in touch with us and we will work you through all you need to know.

Make an appointment to meet with Muriel Willem, the career pathway specialist. Once you have all the up-to-date information at your fingertips, it will be much easier to decide on a pathway that is right for you.