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Health and Wellbeing
A Health and Well-being Wales Partner

A young person can legally leave school on the last Friday in June, providing they will be 16 by the end of that school year’s summer holidays.

Young people over the compulsory school age are not obliged to continue with any form of studying; however, the majority recognise the importance of participating in further education or training and are encouraged to do so.

Many young people will choose to carry on with their academic studies, either in school or at college. Others may be more interested in pursuing vocational education and training, either to prepare them for the workplace or to help them progress to higher education.

Some young people choose to enter the world of work straight from school, often starting an apprenticeship which combines earning a wage with learning job-specific skills in the workplace and gaining relevant vocational qualifications.

Post-16 education

The term ‘post-16 education’ is generally used to describe the ‘further education’ that fills the gap between compulsory education (usually provided in schools) and higher education (usually provided by universities).

Post-16 education covers different kinds of education and training, including:

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)

The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a weekly allowance of £30 to help 16 to 18 years with the cost of continuing in education after the school leaving age.

EMA is means-tested based on household income but does not affect other benefits. 

Careers Wales

Some young people know exactly what career or job they want to do and what steps to take to fulfil their ambition.

Most, however, will be less certain about their future goals and will benefit from a chat with a careers advisor, either at school or at Careers Wales.

Looking for a job

Job hunting can feel like an upward battle for a young person with no work experience and few sought-after skills. Even finding a part-time job can prove difficult, although this becomes a little bit easier when they reach 18.

Make certain their CV is as good as possible and help them brush up on their interview skills. In the mean time, volunteering can be a great way to gain valuable work experience and other important life skills.

Careers Wales lists jobs suitable for young people (they must register on the site first) and provides lots of job-hunting advice.


Though the figures are falling, there are still young people who leave school and find themselves not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Careers Wales is a good starting point for a young person who doesn’t know what to do with their life.

Anyone who is over 16, living in Wales and not in full-time education can apply for an apprenticeship and Jobs Growth Wales provides unemployed young people aged 16-24 with a job opportunity for six months.

Few young people are eligible for benefits even when they are NEET.

Last updated: 21/05/2018