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Making Your Mark: Unravelling Short-Term and Long-Term Goals for UK School Leavers

Updated: Jul 30, 2023


As a career coach, there's nothing more inspiring than helping young people, especially school leavers in the UK, navigate the sea of countless opportunities ahead of them. At this exciting juncture, pausing, pondering, and plotting short-term and long-term goals is essential. These can act as the guiding stars, helping steer your ship in the right direction.

Transitioning from school to the next life stage can significantly shift many young individuals. It's a period filled with change and the start of a journey towards greater independence and self-discovery. Managing this transition effectively can help set a strong foundation for future success.

Firstly, it's essential to recognise and accept that change is a part of life. It's perfectly normal to feel a mix of excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty during this period. Remember, it's okay not to have all the answers right away. Give yourself the time and space to explore different options and discover your passions and interests.

Consider setting clear short-term and long-term goals to guide your path. Goals can offer direction and a sense of purpose during times of transition. They can also make the transition more manageable as you break down your broader aspirations into smaller, actionable steps.

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Deciding my career options at breakfast time!

Your Next Steps: Short-Term Goals

Picture this - you're embarking on a grand adventure! Short-term goals are the checkpoints on your map, leading you step by step towards your ultimate destination. These goals are like mini milestones that keep you grounded while giving you a sense of achievement along the way. Here are a few short-term goals that might catch your interest:

1. Chase Further Education: Whether it's a college degree, vocational training or an apprenticeship, further education can be your golden ticket to myriad career paths. It’s about expanding your knowledge and honing your skills - shaping your future your way!

2. Venture into Employment: If you're itching to join the working world, grabbing a part-time or full-time job could be the perfect start. It's not just about earning money but gaining real-world experience and a deeper understanding of work ethics.

3. Boost Your Skill Set: Skills aren't just about qualifications on a piece of paper; they are the tools you need in the game of life. Working on skills like communication, problem-solving, and teamwork can give you a significant edge, both professionally and personally.

4. Explore Different Careers: Life's too short to be stuck in the wrong career! Try out internships, job shadowing or informational interviews. It's all about getting a feel for different industries and roles before making your big move.

5. Get Financially Savvy: Money makes the world go round, and understanding how to manage it can be a game-changer. Learn about budgeting, saving and investing - your future self will thank you!

As you stand on the threshold of a brand-new journey, these short-term goals will serve as your compass, directing your path and shaping your experiences. From pursuing further education and venturing into employment to honing your skills, exploring different careers, and getting financially savvy, every step brings you closer to the person you aspire to be.

Remember, the adventure lies not just in the destination, but also in the journey itself. Embrace these early milestones with curiosity and courage, and watch as you unlock doors to a future of limitless potential.

Your Big Picture: Long-Term Goals

Designing your long-term goals is akin to drawing out the blueprint for your life's journey. They symbolize the grand culmination of your aspirations and serve as your guiding star. Here are a few ideas for long-term goals that can help you navigate towards a rewarding future:

1. Pursue a Career with Growth Opportunities: Envision your career path leading to a job that satisfies your professional ambitions and provides opportunities for growth and development. It's about setting your sights on roles that promise more than a paycheck - they promise the chance to evolve and advance.

2. Embrace the Global Job Market: In a world more connected than ever, don't shy away from the opportunity to work abroad. It could open doors to diverse cultures, broaden your perspective, and enrich your personal and professional life.

3. Seek Independence by Moving Out: Long-term, consider establishing your own space away from home. It's a rite of passage that fosters independence and helps you learn to juggle responsibilities.

4. Invest in Personal Growth and Development: Commit to a lifelong journey of learning and self-improvement. This could involve reading widely, attending seminars and workshops, or even enrolling in personal development courses. It's about consistently becoming a better version of yourself.

5. Achieve Long-Term Financial Goals: Beyond achieving stability, consider setting financial goals like owning a home, investing for retirement, or even starting a business. Financial independence and security can allow you to pursue other life passions without worry.

6. Make a Difference: If you've got a burning desire to contribute to your community, volunteering or social initiatives might be your path. It's about making a difference and leaving a positive footprint.

Remember, long-term goals are not about immediate gains but about gradually building the life you envisage. The path may not always be smooth, but you can turn these aspirations into reality with perseverance.

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What qualifications do I need to help me on my career path?

Organisations to Your Rescue

Starting your professional journey can feel like stepping into the unknown. But fear not; organisations across the UK, Northern Ireland, and Ireland offer support, training, and work experience to young people like you! Here are some of the champions in this space:

United Kingdom (Nationally):

1. The Prince's Trust: They've covered you, from training and mentorship to funding and work placements.

2. National Careers Service: Helping you make informed learning, training, and work decisions.

3. The official government site that's your go-to for apprenticeship opportunities across the UK.

4. Skills Development Scotland: They're about helping you manage your career for a prosperous future.


In England, numerous organisations provide young people support, training, and employment opportunities. Some of these include:

1. UK Youth. A leading charity that provides support and opportunities for young people, ranging from life skills and mental health support to employability programmes and outdoor education.

2. Youth Employment UK: This organisation provides free resources to support 14-24-year-olds with career advice, skills development and access to employers and opportunities. They aim to reduce youth unemployment and support every young person to progress.


1. Skills Development Scotland (SDS): SDS is Scotland's national skills body and offers young people career advice, guidance, and information. They also manage the apprenticeship programmes in Scotland, providing a range of work-based learning opportunities.

2. Princes Trust Scotland: This youth charity helps young people aged 16 to 30 get into jobs, education, and training.

3. Scotland's Enterprising Schools: This organisation provides resources and guidance to help schools create a culture of entrepreneurship and enterprise.

4. Young Scot: Young Scot is Scotland's national youth information and citizenship charity. They provide young people aged 11 - 26, with a mixture of information, ideas and incentives to help them become confident, informed and active citizens.


1. Careers Wales: This wholly-owned subsidiary of the Welsh Government provides impartial career information, advice and guidance service for individuals of all ages.

2. Working Wales: Delivered by Careers Wales, this service helps individuals find and stay in work. They offer advice on training, upskilling, and how to get into work or back into work after a career break.

3. Prince's Trust Cymru: They support young people aged 11 to 30 to get into jobs, education and training.

4. Youth Cymru: A youth work charity that offers training and opportunities to young people and those who work with them.

Northern Ireland

1. Start360: They offer services to help you gain employment skills and experience.

2. YouthAction Northern Ireland: Providing youth development programs to help you grow personally and socially.

3. NI Direct Government Services: They'll guide you through training opportunities and career options in Northern Ireland.

4. GEMS NI is a charitable organization that supports individuals of all ages. Currently, it has two programs that young people can access, provided they meet specific eligibility requirements.

There are two programmes available in Belfast to provide support to eligible individuals. Programme 1, called the Belfast Works Connect Project, offers comprehensive support to improve networking, well-being, skill development, qualifications, and job opportunities. The programme is free for those aged 16 and over who meet the eligibility criteria.

Programme 2 is called Gateway to Choices (G2C) and it provides customised advice and guidance to help individuals progress towards employment, education, or training, collaborating with health service providers, local community organisations, and the Northern Ireland Careers Service to help individuals overcome obstacles they may face in finding suitable employment or achieving their career goals.


1. Youth Work Ireland: They support your development through training programs and work experience.

2. Jobcare: They offer programmes designed to help you build skills and experience for your employment journey.

3. City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB): They'll prepare you for the professional world with a range of education and training services.

4. SOLAS: As the Further Education and Training Authority in Ireland, they offer a comprehensive array of vocational and training programmes to help you develop the skills needed for the workforce.

5. IACTO (Irish Association of Community Training Organisations): They promote and support community-based training programmes for early school leavers and other marginalised groups.

These organisations and their resources can be an invaluable aid as you navigate your transition from school to the next stage of your life. Remember, it's okay to seek help and use these supports – they exist to help you succeed.

Mapping Your Journey

Remember that your career journey is precisely that - a journey. You don't have to figure everything out at once, and it's okay to change direction as you learn more about your interests and passions. Embrace the unknown and the opportunities it presents. You never know where your journey might lead you!

In conclusion, transitioning from school can be a thrilling adventure. Take a deep breath, have confidence in your abilities, and dive into the world of endless possibilities. It's your time to explore, discover, and chase your dreams. Your journey starts now, and I'm here to guide you along the way.


Regards, Paula

Careers and Personal Growth Coach

⭐If you're beginning your journey or seeking a new path, I can help you plan your next steps. ⭐If you need to chat about your career dilemma?

📌 Contact me at

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