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Health and Wellbeing
A Health and Well-being Wales Partner

Entering the world of work for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, particularly for a school or college leaver.

Youth unemployment has fallen dramatically in the past decade; however, the availability of decent job opportunities still depends very much on where you live in Wales.

Compulsory education ends at age 16, after which a young person can legally leave school if they choose to. Most, however, opt to remain at school or move onto further education or training positions.

With limited work experience and few sought-after skills, finding a job can be difficult, particularly for those who lack numeracy and literacy skills, or are not competent on a computer. Essential skills are needed for most jobs, so a young person without basic ICT skills, who struggles to read or is unable to carry out simple arithmetic will likely struggle to find work, let alone a decent job. Some young people have no option but to take on casual work or accept zero hours contracts.

Volunteering is a great way for a young person to gain valuable work experience and learn transferable skills like communication, leadership and working in a team. The best thing about volunteering is that they don’t have to wait until they are 16 to get involved. There are lots of volunteering opportunities in local communities, many of which can be carried out alongside parents/carers or older siblings.

Any work experience gained as a volunteer can be added to a young person’s CV and will help them stand out from the crowd when they are applying for a training position or looking for a job.

Apprenticeships are a good way of getting a foothold on the employment ladder. Rather than choosing between further study and a job, apprenticeships enable young people to start work and study for qualifications in their chosen field.

There are different types of apprenticeships, with foundation apprenticeships having lower entry requirements than standard apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships.

Anyone who is over 16, living in Wales and not in full-time education can apply (there is no upper age limit).

The most important thing for all young people is to seek impartial careers advice, either at school or from Careers Wales. There is plenty of information on Careers Wales website, including a job-matching quiz and information about future job trends in Wales.

Last updated: 22/02/2023