Employment and learning options after age 16 years

Raising the Participation Age (RPA) was brought in by the government to encourage young people to stay in education and training until they are 18 years old. For more information visit the Department for Education website.


RPA is not the same as the school leaving age – young people don’t have to stay on at school - there are other options available:

  • Sixth form
  • College
  • Apprenticeship
  • Traineeships
  • Training
  • Employment

Support in choosing options

All secondary schools must provide independent careers guidance to all Year 8 to 13 pupils (12-18-year-olds):

  • It must be provided in an impartial manner.
  • It should explore the range of education or training options including apprenticeships and other vocational pathways.
  • Advice should promote the students’ best interests.

Connexions Sandwell gives statutory careers guidance to young people who live or are educated in the Sandwell area.

The service:

  • works with young people aged from 13-19 years - up to 25 years for people with Special Educational Needs (SEND);
  • gives information, advice and guidance that helps young people make informed decisions about their future;
  • is free and impartial;
  • is delivered by highly qualified and experienced personal advisers and mentors.

During the COVID-19 pandemic contact us on 07917174735/07917174702 or e-mail us at: sandwell_connexions@sandwell.gov.uk

You can also contact the National Careers Service  and speak to an adviser on 0800 100 900.

Financial support

Help with education-related costs is available via the 16-19 Bursary Fund depending on your household income. This covers things like transport, meals, books and equipment.

For further advice on the financial implications of RPA, contact Welfare Rights on 0121 569 3158 or Sandwell Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) on 0121 500 2703.

Sandwell education and training providers