Northern Ireland news

Exam results - what now?

Frances O'Hara, head of Careers Service

YOUNG people across Northern Ireland are receiving exam results and, depending upon the results, are asking themselves `were do I go from here?'. Head of the Careers Service, Frances O'Hara answers some frequently asked questions.

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 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 next steps.

There are several possibilities and these will depend on your own individual circumstances. These include an alternative degree course, an apprenticeship, foundation degree courses, alternative qualifications, employment or self employment or even a gap year.

A-level results: Useful links

Department of Economy careers service
UCAS clearing
Central Applications Office - universities in the Republic
CCEA - Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment

What can the Careers Service offer me?

Professionally qualified careers advisers provide impartial advice and guidance on a range of 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.

Where will future jobs be?

A number of sectors have been identified by the Department for the Economy as important in rebuilding and rebalancing the economy. These sectors are ICT, business and financial services, advanced engineering, advanced manufacturing and materials, agri foods, health and life sciences, renewable energy and recycling and creative industries and digital media.

What can I do at a further education college?

Colleges offer academic, professional and technical qualifications as well as training courses. You can choose from a range of full and part time options including apprenticeships, foundation degrees, extended diplomas and higher level apprenticeships.

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 and off the job’ working towards the achievement of an industry approved qualification.

FE colleges and universities in partnership with employers also offer higher level apprenticeships.

In addition, the Department for the Economy's Training for Success programme could provide the tools and confidence needed to find work. It offers training to help gain the recognised skills, experiences and qualifications to progress into a 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 search skills, help with job applications and CVs, and to prepare for interviews.

To contact a careers adviser, visit, call 0300 200 7820, or visit to find your nearest office.

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