It is a common misconception that the only route into the actuarial profession is via university. However, this is simply not the case. School leaver schemes are becoming more popular across all sectors, and the actuarial profession is not exempt from this.

So what is a school leaver scheme? How do they work? And, how can you apply for one?  In this article, we tell everything you need to know about school leaver schemes.

What is a school leaver scheme?

A school leaver scheme is a programme that you can join straight out of school, once you have completed your A-Levels. They offer full training and, in the case of actuarial school leaver schemes, give you the opportunity to gain professional qualifications. Essentially, it’s a way to ‘learn while you earn’.

Schemes vary in length, though they are often longer than a graduate scheme, but they offer the chance for you to gain work experience with real clients while you are being trained. This means that you will quickly be brought up to the same educational level as a graduate entering the profession and you will also have relevant experience working within the company.

School leaver schemes will usually last between 4-6 years and will give you a real insight into the accountancy profession. If you are sure that a career as an actuary is right for you, then a school leaver scheme could be the ideal path to take without spending more time in education.

Am I eligible for a school leaver scheme?

School leaver schemes are exactly that, they are for school leavers. Some schemes accept leavers who have finished their GCSEs whereas others prefer to have A levels.

If you are looking at an actuarial school leaver scheme, then they often require at least a grade B in Maths at A-Level, though some just ask for a B in a Maths-related subject. It does vary from company to company and from scheme to scheme so we recommend doing your research before applying.

Some companies may allow people who have not recently left school onto their schemes if they are looking to go into the profession however, they will be for those who did not go to university.

What are the advantages of a school leaver scheme?

There are plenty of reasons to consider a school leaver scheme, for example:

  • You go straight into the world of work
    • Instead of going to university and delaying entering the world of work, a school leaver programme will mean you jump straight into working while you study.
  • You gain experience
    • By the time your peers graduate, you will already have had three years of experience working in your chosen field, experience which will be invaluable when the time comes for you to move jobs.
  • You get the best of both worlds
    • With a school leaver scheme, you don’t have to sacrifice your education for work, and vice versa. You get to study while working and earning money.
  • It is an alternative to university
    • Some school leaver schemes have entry requirements to rival Russell Group universities and therefore are a genuine alternative to university.
  • You avoid student debt
    • If you don’t like the idea of being lumped with a considerable amount of debt after three years at university, then a school leaver scheme is a no brainer. Not only do you not have any debt but you could also earn over £22,000 on a school leaver scheme.

What are the disadvantages of a school leaver scheme?

While there are many advantages, there are also disadvantages, and it’s important you consider both before you apply. For example;

  • You will be taking on a lot of responsibility
    • Starting your career at eighteen can be daunting, and the responsibility of an adult job straight out of school could take a toll on your wellbeing.
  • You won’t experience the university lifestyle
    • For some, being part of a young adult is having the opportunity to go to university and have the lifestyle to go with it. Going straight into a school leaver scheme means you miss out on this experience.
  • The competition is tough
    • With rising university fees and employers increasingly turning to school leavers as opposed to graduates, competition for school leaver schemes is tough.
  • You could find it harder to change career in the future
    • If you do a school leaver scheme as opposed to a degree and you decide a few years down the line that your chosen career is not the one for you, you may find it harder to change careers as you will not have a degree.

School leaver schemes are a great way to get straight into earning money while gaining valuable skills and qualifications. If you want to jump straight into working in your chosen industry and work towards professional qualifications but without the university debt then a school leaver scheme may be perfect for you. Competition is fierce and you will be taking on a lot of responsibility early on in your career.

Take a look at our school leaver schemes here.

About the Author

  • Name: Actuarial Careers
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