Pupils coming to terms with their A-level results should act fast if they haven’t already made plans for the future, the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) has advised.
Nigel Keery, head of DEL’s careers service, said there is professional guidance available for those requiring help in examining their career options.
“They can also provide clients with assistance writing CVs ,interview techniques, completion of application forms etc,” he said.
For anyone who missed out on the grades required for university offers, there are alternatives to full-time, third level education.
“Options could include an alternative degree course, alternative qualifications, an apprenticeship/higher apprenticeship, employment or self employment or a gap year,” he said.
Commenting on the value of a university education for those who do begin degree courses, the careers specialist said: “A degree is an investment in your future. Competition in the job market is fierce and a degree will give you the best possible start to their career.
“Not only are options open once you graduate, but you are likely to progress much quicker in your chosen career than a non-graduate. Some careers require a degree for entry. Generally over the course of a lifetime, those with a degree will earn more than those without.”
“Going to university enables students to develop skills such as communication, organisation, time management, team-work, leadership, presentation and problem-solving alongside their studies.”
Careers advisers are located in Jobcentres, Jobs and Benefit offices. There are also six Careers Resources Centres in Belfast, Dungannon, Bangor, Ballymena, Downpatrick and Londonderry with no prior appointment necessary. The advice is also available to those already in employment who are considering further education, training, or a career change.
Across the UK, eight per cent (1,400) more students from disadvantaged backgrounds have won places at university than ever UCAS, the university admissions service, has said.
The high level of achievement by the Province’s school leavers has been praised by the chair of Stormont’s education committee.
Mervyn Storey of the DUP said: “Once again Northern Ireland students are amongst the very best in the United Kingdom. Despite attempts to undermine our education system in Northern Ireland this demonstrates the excellence that is achieved by our young people”.
Almost 30 per cent of local pupils achieved the top A* and A grades.
Two integrated schools have said they are particularly pleased with this year’s results. Hazelwood College had its largest ever sixth form and a 12 per cent rise in the numbers achieving three A-levels, while Priory in Holywood reported 75 per cent of students sitting three or more A-Levels achieving three or more A*-C grades.