University is not the only way to get ahead in life

As the summer draws to a close, many of Derbyshire's youth are excitedly getting ready to take the biggest step of their lives - going to university.

Thursday, 1st September 2016, 11:18 am
Updated Thursday, 1st September 2016, 12:21 pm
Chesterfield College

But if you’re one of the many young people who are not going onto higher education, the sight of your friends hurriedly preparing for their new life and the endless questions from relatives about what you are you going to do with your life may leave you feeling a little nauseous.

However there is no need to panic. There are plenty of options out there to get you ahead in life, or even just boost your CV while you figure out what it is you want.


Studying for a degree doesn’t suit everyone and its not the only way to get into a career. Work-based training in the form of an apprenticeship is a sure-fire way of establishing yourself in the workplace.

Among other providers, Derbyshire County Council offers apprenticeships, both within the authority and with external organisations.

Becky Rimmer, aged 20, is one of the many young people who have benefited from work based training. With the help of the county council, she started work at Bakewell Medical Centre in February last year.

She comments: “I have learned so much since I first started as I am now able to make appointments, chase results, complete the deductions and many other things.

“Working at the surgery has made me more confident as a person, which has helped me to deal with any challenging patients. I think that doing an apprenticeship was the best step for me as university was not something I would have enjoyed and I prefer to learn whilst doing the job.”

For further information on apprenticeships through Derbyshire County Council, or the wide range of adult education services the authority has to offer, visit the adult education page on the authority’s website

Apprenticeships are also available through colleges throughout the county.


Volunteering your time can be a huge boost to your CV while at the same time giving you valuable experience of something that interests you.

There are volunteering organisations throughout Derbyshire offering experience in a multitude of sectors from administration and catering to events and care work.

Lynn Allison, chief executive of Amber Valley CVS, says: “We encourage young people to think of volunteering as a way of increasing their skills.”

She explains that when someone approaches the organisation, they are asked what type of volunteering they are interested in doing, and the CVS then tries to find something to fit their interest.

She says volunteering can be a good way of finding out what you do and don’t enjoy doing.

“It helps them find things that they do enjoy,” she adds.

Volunteering can make you stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs and college courses.

“They have got something to tell their employer about and volunteering is something that employers and colleges look quite favourably on,” Lynn concludes.

For further information on volunteering opportunities with the Amber Valley CVS visit the website or call 01773 512076.

Alternatively is a national database of volunteering opportunities.


There are numerous colleges throughout the county offering vocational courses.

New students will be able to enrol on courses at Chesterfield College until the end of September, depending on the availability of places.

Gill Parkes, assistant principal for curriculum at the college, says: “September 12 is the first day of term but we quite often have students who appear later or who will go to school and change their mind, so we make sure students are inducted into college life.”

The college offers GCSEs and A-levels, as well as a range of vocational qualifications such as B-Techs, which earn UCAS points. There are also qualifications tailored towards employers’ needs such as NVQs and VRQs

“We offer university level courses,” Gill adds.

“We work with the University of Derby, Sheffield Hallam and Staffordshire University.”

The tutors on vocational courses have experience in industry and the facilities available to students emulate the workplace.

“College life is a lot more than people coming to study, it’s a very social environment,” Gill says.

The college has an advice hub available between 9am and 4pm on weekdays by calling 01246 500500. For more on opportunities offered by the college, see