Early Career Paths

With so many early career paths to choose from, where will your journey begin? University, College, Apprenticeship, or something else. Our latest review of the early career options is a great place to start.

Early Career is about your early working life and those transitions between education and employment. We like to think of it as club 16-30. A journey with new relationships, achievements and set-backs, twists and turns before one day you look in the mirror and realise you have reached the next stage… mid-career! But let’s not worry about a few grey hairs just yet. You have many paths to explore before that. Some paths with lead to others, some will open out to mountainous hikes for which you are not prepared, some will be dead ends, and some will take you right back to where you started. Every path is a valuable experience so be sure to get started. There is #no wrong path.

Early Careers Pathways

Early Career Programmes
You are here so you already know about early career programmes offered by employers and learning providers. But just in case you missed it, check out Scotland’s Early careers marketplace, sign up for Early Careers Adviser updates and make sure your download the Early Careers App.  

Submit a UCAS application before the annual deadline and you can find yourself with a place at university. If you are up for studying something specific, full-time or part-time, then build your early career as a graduate.

Temped by a course at college? This could give you the skills to establish a technical or professional career and lead to an apprenticeship, university or a full-time job in something you would enjoy.

There are a few diffident types here so let’s start with the biggest and the smallest. Some of the world’s biggest employers have regional, national, European or global apprenticeships which have certificates awarded outside of Scotland. At the opposite end of the scale, some small/rural employers and specialist trades may still provide uncertified ‘time-served’ apprenticeships.

Modern Apprenticeship
Modern Apprenticeships are a Scottish Government brand of apprenticeship, administered by Skills Development Scotland. They are normally based on fixed-term, paid employment where you undertake a vocational qualification with a training provider whilst you are working. They are certified in Scotland with qualifications awarded or recognised by the SQA. Earn while you learn, and you could take the next step to become a graduate apprentice. 

Graduate Apprenticeship
Graduate Apprenticeships are another Scottish Government brand of apprenticeship, administered by Skills Development Scotland. They are paid employment where you undertake a university degree and other professional qualifications whilst you are working. They are certified in Scotland with qualifications awarded by universities and professional bodies. You would normally need either Highers, HNC/D or a Modern Apprenticeship in order to be considered.

Pathway Early Careers

Some sectors prefer to use the term to trainee to describe the first period of employment where you are in training. Typically, you would be working towards becoming professional at something. A quick job search reveals current examples such as Trainee Ethical Hackers, Trainee Bus Drivers and Trainee Tax Accountants to name but a few. Its very wide range with traineeships lasting from 3 months to 3 years depending on the profession.

Fancy being your own boss? What’s stopping you? If you have limited responsibilities, then maybe your early career is the best time to go for it. Write down your idea, refine it, research and get help from Youth Business Scotland. You could soon be taking on your first employee and if your idea fails you will have learned a huge amount in the process.

Full-time Employment
There is no shortage of full-time work in Scotland. Spend a few hours browsing all the jobs you can find and apply for your top 10. Before you know it you could be having your induction, making new friends, learning a whole heap and putting yourself to the test in a new environment.

Part-time Employment
A part-time job is full-time experience. It might give you the chance to try two different jobs or work and study at the same time. It’s not just about temporary work either. It can lead you to your early career.

Internship or Work experience
An internship is a formal work experience advertised as part of an employer’s early career programme and these are growing in popularity. Some are paid and some also offer entry level qualifications. You normally need to apply as part of a competitive process. Work experience is usually informal and something you need to organise yourself. Make a good impression and these are your golden ticket onto their early career pathways.

Skills Academies
Sector networks, partnerships and innovators are developing, trialling, and running innovative training models to address skill shortages and meet employer demand. Find a skills academy, skills bootcamps and local authority enterprise initiatives for opportunities and you could be off the path and onto the fast track.

Spending too much on social watching what everyone else is up to? Trade in some of your time by volunteering and you’ll soon be the star of the show. Volunteering in early career helps you get skills and experience to get ahead. Find a local volunteering opportunity. Pick the most attractive option and apply.  

Some young people find their niche travelling all year round by working on farms, holiday camps, sailing clubs, ski resorts or at annual events. It is a great way to learn about yourself, about others and the many early career paths that may not immediately be available in Kirkcaldy.

Maybe part of your life and early career will be about caring for family. Make sure you get the support you need to make progress with your early career whist caring for others. Search resources for young adult carers.

Are we missing something?
Have we missed something? Got a question? Ask Carly.