It can be daunting for young people who are taking their first steps into the world of work, whether that is finding a Saturday job, starting out on a dream career or just working out what to do in the future.

According to the latest figures, around 14 per cent of 18 to 24-yearolds are not in education, training or employment (‘NEETs’).

AFF Employment & Training Specialist Lucy Ritchie has some tips on where to start and the resources available…

How old do you have to be to start working?

Once you’re 13, you can be paid to work, but there are strict rules on working hours for under-16s. See

What is an apprenticeship?

It’s a real job with hands-on experience and a salary, alongside getting industrystandard training and a qualification. It is for anyone over 16, to help kick-start a career in a job that suits your skills and interests, and is available across a wide variety of sectors, roles and levels.

Find out how to become an apprentice on and check out the apprenticeship page on Forces Families Jobs (FFJ).

What about training opportunities?

The Prince’s Trust supports young people (aged 16-30) to build confidence and develop essential life skills to get ready for work and access job opportunities.

Youth Employment UK has a wealth of information and advice, including career guides, skills training and early career support, to help you get work-ready.

What other support is there?

FFJ is an employment and training platform for military family members, including adult children aged 18-25. There is a jobs board which averages 10,000 live roles including apprenticeships and graduate opportunities. All the employers have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, so you can be confident they are forces friendly.

Pinnacle Service Families’ social values team offers free coaching and mentoring programmes to help shape your working future, including one specifically designed around career support for young people. David Beck, Pinnacle Service Families Social Value Business Partner, says: “Our programme, aimed at 18 to 24-yearolds from military families, is an ideal programme for an individual to take the next steps in their work life supported by an experienced mentor. Whether you are a NEET, at college or generally wanting support to get a job or even start your own business, we will tailor our programme to suit your needs.”

For more information on the programme, email

The Forces Employment Charity (FEC) has a Families Programme which offers mentoring and career guidance to service children aged 16-24. Kelly Wales, FEC’s Armed Forces Families Education and Skills Liaison, says that “embarking on your very first job search can be nerveracking but breaking it down into key steps will make things more manageable”.

Kelly’s advice is: “First, set aside time every day to do your research. Next, narrow your search for apprenticeships or jobs by using websites, like UCAS, which allow you to look for specific criteria. Most organisations will list school and college leaver programmes and apprenticeships within the career sections on their websites, so that’s also a good place to focus your search.

“Once you find something you’re interested in, don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet all the job requirements – it’s usually still worth applying. A strong cover letter or personal statement can demonstrate the personal qualities, skills, and attributes organisations are looking for.” 


Forces Families Jobs:
FEC Families Programme:
Government apprenticeships:
Prince’s Trust:
Youth Employment UK:
Defence Children Services:
MOD Virtual School: See Virtual school is by your side around the world and Adventures and opportunities at MOD schools overseas

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