How To Progress If You Weren’t Able To Complete Your A Levels

6th July 2024

For many individuals, the inability to complete A-Levels can feel like a significant setback in their academic and career aspirations. However, there are numerous alternative pathways to progress and achieve success, whether through further education, vocational training, or entering the workforce directly. Here’s a comprehensive guide on moving forward if you couldn’t complete your A-Levels.

  1. Further Education and Alternative Qualifications:

Access to Higher Education Diplomas: Access courses are designed for those who lack traditional qualifications but wish to pursue higher education. These courses, available at many colleges, provide the necessary foundation to apply for university degrees.

BTEC and NVQ Qualifications: BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) and NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) offer practical, skills-based learning. These qualifications can lead directly to employment or further study in specific fields such as engineering, health and social care, or business.

Foundation Year Programmes: Many universities offer foundation year programmes, which are designed to prepare students for degree-level study. These programmes often cater to students who have non-traditional qualifications or need to build up their academic skills.

  1. Apprenticeships:

Earning While Learning: Apprenticeships provide an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on experience but also earn a salary. They combine practical training with study, leading to a nationally recognised qualification. Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries, from engineering to finance.

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships: For those aiming for higher education, higher and degree apprenticeships offer a pathway to achieve a university degree while working. These programmes allow you to gain professional experience and academic qualifications simultaneously.

  1. Entering the Workforce Directly:

Entry-Level Positions: Starting in an entry-level position can be a stepping stone to career advancement. Many employers value practical experience and on-the-job training. Entry-level roles can provide valuable insights into an industry and open up opportunities for promotions and further training.

On-the-Job Training and Development: Many companies offer internal training and development programmes. By demonstrating a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, you can advance your career without the need for formal qualifications.

  1. Adult Education and Lifelong Learning:

Evening Classes and Online Courses: Adult education centres and platforms for an online access diploma offer a wide range of courses that can help you gain new skills or improve existing ones. These can be particularly beneficial if you need to balance education with other responsibilities.

Open University: The Open University offers flexible, distance-learning degrees and qualifications. This option allows you to study at your own pace while continuing to work or manage other commitments.

  1. Career Advice and Support:

Career Guidance Services: Seek advice from career guidance services available through schools, colleges, and local job centres. They can provide information on available opportunities and help you develop a career plan.

Networking and Mentorship: Building a professional network and seeking mentorship can open doors to new opportunities. Engaging with professionals in your desired field can provide insights, guidance, and potential job leads.

  1. Volunteering and Internships:

Gaining Experience: Volunteering and internships can provide valuable experience and enhance your CV. They demonstrate commitment and a proactive attitude, which are attractive qualities to employers.

Exploring Interests: These opportunities allow you to explore different fields and identify areas of interest, helping you make informed decisions about your future career path.


Not completing A-Levels does not mean the end of your educational or career aspirations. There are numerous pathways available to achieve your goals, whether through alternative qualifications, vocational training, direct entry into the workforce, or adult education. By exploring these options and leveraging available resources, you can progress and find success in your chosen field. The key is to remain proactive, seek guidance, and remain open to new opportunities and experiences.