Exam results - what now?

Nigel Keery head of Careers Service at DEL
Nigel Keery head of Careers Service at DEL

Students across Northern Ireland are receiving exam results and, depending upon the results received, asking themselves ‘What now?’ and ‘Where do I go from here?’

Nigel Keery, Head of the Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Service, congratulates students on their exam results and answers some frequently asked questions which are raised with careers advisers at this time of year.

Q. What can the Careers Service offer me?

A. Professionally qualified careers advisers provide an , impartial careers information, advice and guidance service to clients of all ages and abilities.. This includes helping you to analyse your current situation, talk you through your career options and help you create an action plan to support your career planning. They can also provide clients with assistance writing CVs ,interview techniques, completion of application forms etc.

Careers advisers are located in Jobcentres, Jobs and Benefit Offices and Careers Offices throughout Northern Ireland. In addition the Careers Service have six customised Careers Resources Centres in Belfast, Dungannon, Bangor, Ballymena, Downpatrick and Londonderry. No appointments are required in Resource Centres.


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

A. There are a number of possibilities available and these will depend on your own individual circumstances. You should contact a careers adviser or careers teacher as soon as possible to help you decide what’s best for you.

Options could include an alternative degree course, alternative qualifications, an apprenticeship/ higher apprenticeship, employment or self employment or a gap year ..

Q. What is the value in going to university?

A.. 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. Some degrees have work placements built in to their programme of study. This allows students to put their knowledge in practice.

Going to university enables students to develop skills such as communication, organisation, time management, team-work, leadership, presentation and problem-solving alongside their studies.

Q. Where will the employment opportunities be in the future?

A number of 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 sectors are: Business Services (including ICT); Financial services; Manufacturing (food and drink/Agri foods, advanced manufacturing, advanced engineering and advanced materials; Retail; Hotels and Catering (in support of Tourism). In addition, you may also wish to think about emerging sectors such as Life and Health Sciences; Creative and Digital Media.

Further information on these and other sectors is available in the Job Trends

Factsheets available on the Careers Service website www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers and from careers advisers.


Q. I want to stay on at school but I did not attain enough GCSEs to take

my ‘A’ Levels, what can I do?

A. Take stock of your current situation. Some points to be aware of: -

• Do your GCSE grades reflect your academic potential?

• Are you sure that ‘A’ Levels are the best route for you?

• You may be able to go to a different school to do ‘A’ Levels as entry requirements can vary from school to school.

• Consider whether you can achieve your career goals by studying an alternative course or taking an alternative route to ‘A’ levels such as an apprenticeship.

Think carefully. Discuss your plans with your careers adviser who will advise on all the options open to you.

Q. Is there any financial support if I decide to go to a Further Education college or to remain at school?

If you decide to stay on at school or go to a Further Education college in Northern Ireland you may be entitled to an Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

You may be eligible for the weekly £30 award if your household has an income of £20,500 or less, with one dependent child or if your household has an income of £22,500 and there is more than one dependent child.

Further information on EMA is available at www.nidirect.gov.uk/education-maintenance-allowance.html; or by e-mailing ema_ni@slc.co.uk or telephoning 0845 601 7646.


Q. What can I do at a Further Education college?

A. Further Education colleges offer you the opportunity to study from a wide range of full time and part time courses to suit your career path. You can choose from a range of options including ‘A’ Levels, GCSE, Vocational Qualifications,

Apprenticeships, Foundation Degrees, etc. Your careers adviser would be happy to talk you through the options in Further Education Colleges. Colleges will be holding information and advice days once the results are issued so it may be a good idea to visit the colleges to get more details. You can find out more at www.nidirect.gov.uk/further-education

Q. What about training?

A. Apprenticeships - the benefits of an apprenticeship qualification are many.

In June, the Minister for Employment and Learning announced a new Northern Ireland Strategy on Apprenticeships which is central to transforming our skills landscape and to securing our economic success. It is the Minister’s ambition that Northern Ireland’s system of apprenticeships will be of a gold standard and will form a key part of an enhanced skills landscape. A fresh focus on higher level apprenticeships will be complemented by new progression routes and assistance through an improved system of youth training to enable people to access apprenticeships. Check www.nidirect.gov.uk/skills.

If the idea of a more practical route to the job of your choice appeals to you then training is an option to consider. Training for Success provides 16 to 18 year olds with an opportunity to gain the skills necessary for employment. It lets you enter at the level that matches your needs, develops your employability skills and allows you to gain nationally recognised qualifications. Gaining skills and experience will help you with future training and employment. You will receive an allowance of £40 per week. For more information log onto www.nidirect.gov.uk/skills

Q. Is employment an option?

A. If you really feel that full time education or training is not for you, employment may be an option. Vacancies are advertised in JobCentres, Jobs & Benefit offices, online at www.jobcentreonline.com, in local and regional newspapers and through recruitment agencies. Careers advisers can help you to perfect your job hunting skills, help with job applications and CVs, and to prepare for interviews. They can provide up-to-date information on employment trends and future job opportunities.

As a final point, I would remind all readers that careers guidance is equally valuable to everyone, including those in work, who are considering further education or training or a change in career direction. Find out more on www.nidirect.gov.uk

More information and details of how to contact your local careers adviser are available at www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers or phone 0300 200 7820.