Northern Ireland news

Exam results: What now?

Head of the Northern Ireland Careers Service Frances O'Hara

YOUNG people are receiving results and, depending on what they have received, will be asking themselves "Where do I go from here?" Frances O'Hara, head of the Northern Ireland Careers Service, answers some frequently asked questions.


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

A: 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 on your next steps.

There are several possibilities available and these will depend on your individual circumstances. Options could include an alternative degree course, an apprenticeship or higher level apprenticeship, foundation degree courses, alternative qualifications, employment, self-employment or even a gap year.

Q: What can the Careers Service offer me?

A: Professionally qualified careers advisers provide young people and adults with impartial guidance on a range of career related issues, including apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships, further and higher education, training, employment including apprenticeships, and voluntary work opportunities.

Q: Where will future jobs be?

A: Several sectors have been identified by the Department for the Economy as important in rebuilding and rebalancing the economy. These all need skilled and qualified staff. They include 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.

Q: What can I do at a further education college?

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

Q: What about apprenticeships?

A: If you want to start work an apprenticeship is great way to get qualification while 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.

Our further education colleges and universities in partnership with local employers also offer higher level apprenticeships. As 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 further education college.

Q: What about training?

A: The Department for the Economy’s Training for Success programme could provide you with the tools and confidence you need to find work. It offers training to help you gain the recognised skills, experiences and qualifications to help you progress into your chosen career.

Q: Is employment an option?

A: The current labour market is extremely competitive, and therefore individuals may wish to use this time to upskill in order to make them better able to compete. However, there are still jobs available and careers advisers can help you to explore job vacancies, they can help support you with your job search activities including help with your CV, applications forms and to prepare for interviews.

The Careers Service website publishes monthly job posting trends information, provided by the department's economists and that is a really useful way to keep informed of current labour market information.

There are more current and future opportunities in areas where there are skills shortages, in particular, those relating to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (Stem).


:: To contact a careers adviser you can chat online at, call 0300 200 7820, or go online at


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