Congratulations - you made it through your apprenticeship! You're a qualified administrator, driver, warehouse operative, or beyond. But what should you do next?

There's no need to panic if you don't have a job immediately after finishing your apprenticeship. If you want to stay with the same company, talk about your future at the firm and see if there are any potential opportunities.

If not, then it is time for you to explore new opportunities in another workplace. Or maybe you want to continue your education or try something completely different? It's all up to you.

We've detailed some helpful tips and advice below to help you make the right decision for you.

Plan ahead and have a goal

The best way to approach your next steps is to ask yourself: What do I need to learn, both in terms of skills and experience, in order to get where I want to be?

Some fields have established career paths: for example, in many cases, you will start out on a Junior Level and work your way up through roles such as Project Manager or Senior Operator.

For some roles, there are fewer clear paths. In this case, it might be worth asking people who currently hold positions you aspire towards how they got there.

Know your options

By the end of your apprenticeship, you should feel confident enough in your skills to consider a few different paths. If you have been a valuable employee and your company has done a good job supporting you along the way, there's no reason why they wouldn't want to keep you on permanently.

However, if things have been rocky during the apprenticeship—perhaps because of workplace culture, or maybe just a lack of clear communication—you might want to look for other opportunities.

Regardless of what kind of apprenticeship you completed (e.g., pre-apprenticeship, technical training), there are several different avenues available to pursue once it's finished.

Weigh up what you want more of

Do you want more of the same thing?

If you’re happy in your current line of work, take a look at the opportunities out there for people with similar experience. For example, if you’ve just finished an apprenticeship as a mechanic, consider becoming an auto technician or maintenance supervisor.

Do you want something different?

If you want to change career, think about whether the skills and qualifications from your apprenticeship are transferable to other industries. Is there anything else that would help boost your applications?

Get the most out of your permanent position

You've already built up an impressive CV with the skills and experience gained during your apprenticeship, so why not make the most of that? If you can find ways to further develop yourself within your organisation, then you could be well on your way to becoming a valuable member of staff.

If you do choose to stay in the same workplace, ask your employer what opportunities are available for you to develop and build upon your skills. If this isn't available, you can always Contact the System Group team who will be able to help and advise you on what other training opportunities are out there for you.

If you're still working for the same employer as an apprentice, there are a few things you can do to make sure they keep getting value from their investment in you. For example:

  • Ask how they'll measure your performance and what they expect from you. And if it's not clear, ask again until it is. You should know exactly how they want to see improvement over time.

  • Keep up with industry news and trends so that when someone asks what you've been up to lately, you can talk knowledgeably about them – even if you aren't directly involved in that area of work anymore.

Don't be afraid to shop around

Apprenticeships are a great way to learn new skills and gain experience in your chosen field. But they don’t always lead to long-term employment. If your apprenticeship has come to an end and you haven’t had enough luck finding full-time work, consider looking for new opportunities elsewhere.

You may find that employers value your experience and qualifications more than they would have done before you started an apprenticeship.

If you decide you want to move on from your current company, you can:

  • Check out the Apprenticeship website to find out more about the types of jobs available.

  • Contact your local Jobcentre Plus or careers service and ask them about jobs similar to those you have been doing while on your apprenticeship programme. They'll be able to help you find out about training opportunities that could help you get into a related job.

  • Apply for jobs and sign up with recruitment agencies - they can be a good way of finding work quickly, but make sure they charge a reasonable fee before signing up with them (sometimes they can charge over £300). You can also try sending off speculative applications without registering with them first - but don't send off too many at once or it can look like you're desperate!

  • Look through newspapers and websites such as Reed, Totaljobs, Gumtree and LinkedIn for job vacancies in your area of interest - there are lots of them out there!

Make the most of your learning

Take advantage of the knowledge you've gained during your apprenticeship. You'll have a solid understanding of how your career field works, and you'll have learned the tricks of the trade from working alongside experienced professionals.

Use that knowledge to further your career by attending seminars and workshops, reading books or subscribing to professional newsletters and journals.

Consider earning additional certifications or licenses that are required for certain jobs in your field. For example, if you're planning to become a full-time HGV driver, there are a number of additional licences and courses you can complete to become a specialist in the logistics sector.

If it's your soft skills you want to improve, visit our funded adult courses page to discover the wide range of fully-funded adult education courses to help boost your confidence.

Get tips from your managers, mentors and network

You can get valuable advice from people in the industry you want to work in.

Talk to the people who have helped you grow and develop during your apprenticeship. They may be able to give you advice about developing your career or preparing for interviews.

Keep in touch with any contacts you've made through your apprenticeship. This could help with getting references and finding job opportunities in the future.

If you've completed your apprenticeship, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch with our apprenticeship team for the latest information on career opportunities, funding for further training and more.

Or, if you're still stuck for inspiration, browse our site to discover your next steps.