A-levels: Many different options whatever the result

Students are receiving exam results and, depending upon the results received, asking themselves `where do I go from here?' Frances O'Hara, head of the Department for Employment and Learning's Careers Service, answers some frequently asked questions.

GCSE pupils across the north will receive their results this morning Picture by Rui Vieira/PA Wire

I did not achieve the required results for my chosen universities. What are my options?

If you are unclear or confused about your next move, particularly if you did not get the grades you had hoped for, speak to a careers adviser. Careers information, advice and guidance can play an important role in helping you understand the qualification and training requirements of your preferred career, identify routes to achieving your career goals, and help you decide on your next steps.

There are numerous possibilities available. Options include an alternative degree course, an apprenticeship foundation degree courses, alternative qualifications, employment or self employment or even a gap year.

Where will future jobs be?

Numerous sectors have been identified by the minister for employment and learning as important in rebuilding and rebalancing the economy. These sectors all need skilled and qualified staff and you may wish to think about this when considering your future career options. These are business services (including ICT), financial services, advanced engineering, advanced manufacturing and materials, food and drink/agri foods, hotels and catering (in support of tourism), retail, health and life sciences and creative industries and digital media.

Further information on these and other sectors is available in the job trends factsheets available at and from careers advisers.

What can the Careers Service offer me?

Professionally qualified careers advisers provide young people and adults with impartial advice and guidance on a range of career related issues, including apprenticeships, further and higher education, training, employment and voluntary work opportunities. Careers advisers use labour market information and knowledge of the skills and qualities employers need to inform the guidance process.

What can I do at a further education college?

Further education colleges offer a range of academic, professional and technical qualifications as well as training courses. You can choose from a range of full time and part time options including apprenticeships, foundation degrees, extended diplomas and higher level apprenticeships. You can find out more at

What about training?

There are many benefits of following an apprenticeship qualification including earning while you learn. You are trained to a quality standard in your chosen occupational area. Learning takes place both on the job and off the job working towards the achievement of an industry approved qualification.

This September, our FE colleges and universities in partnership with local employers will be offering new higher level apprenticeship opportunities as part of pilots which are designed to further inform the implementation of our new system of apprenticeships. As new HLAs are being agreed on an ongoing basis, your careers adviser will have a complete and up-to-date list of what is available. Those interested in exploring the opportunities provided through a HLA can also contact their local FE college.

DEL's Training for Success programme provides young people with the tools and confidence they need to find work. It offers training to help young people gain the recognised skills, experiences and qualifications to help you progress into your chosen career.

Is employment an option?

If you feel that full time education or training is not for you, employment may be an option. Careers advisers can help you to perfect your job hunting skills, help with job applications and CVs, and to prepare for interviews. Careers advisers are located in Jobcentres, jobs and benefit offices and careers offices. More information is available at or phone 0300 200 7820.


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