Exam results are in, so, what next?

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?’

Siobhan McKenna, Careers Manager for Magherafelt, Antrim and Cookstown in 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. The Careers Service has a team of professionally qualified careers advisers located in Jobcentres, Jobs and Benefit Offices and Careers Offices throughout Northern Ireland who are available to provide free and impartial careers information, advice and guidance to young people and adults. We also have three customised Careers Resources Centres in Belfast, Dungannon and Londonderry.


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, employment or self employment, a gap year or maybe re-sits.

Q. I hear that there are very few jobs for graduates. Is there any value in going to university and studying for a further 3 or 4 years?

A. The job situation for graduates is difficult this year so. it is important that you base your career decisions on future potential rather than the current circumstances. 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, advanced manufacturing and advanced engineering); Life and Health Sciences; Creative Industries; Retail;  Hotels and Catering (in support of Tourism).

Further information on these and other sectors is available in the Industry Factsheets available on the Careers Service website www.nidirect/results and from careers advisers. -


Q. I want to stay on at school but I did not attain enough GCSE’s 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?

. Should you consider remarks or resits? (Your school can help in the first instance with this option).

. You may be able to go to a different school to do ‘A’ Levels as entry requirements vary dramatically 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). EMA is a fortnightly payment of up to £60 and paid directly to young people from households with an income of £33,950 or less who stay on in education. Further information on EMA is available at www.nidirect.gov.uk/education-maintenance-allowance.htm; 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 courses to suit your career path. You can choose from a range of options including ‘A’ Levels, GCSE, NVQ, Apprenticeships, BTEC First and National Qualifications, Foundation Degrees etc. Your careers adviser would be happy to talk you through the options in Further Education Colleges. All the 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. To locate your nearest college log on to www.anic.ac.uk

Q. What about training?

A. ApprenticeshipsNI - the benefits of an apprenticeship qualification are many. For example, you are trained to a quality standard in your chosen occupational area in your employer’s business. You have the opportunity to develop specialist skills, using new technology, giving you the chance to learn and gain qualifications that are recognised worldwide. As an added benefit in today’s economic climate, you will be earning while you learn. Further information can be obtained from www. nidirect.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsNI

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 you 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/trainingforsuccess

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. As is the case for grauates, opportunities still exist in a number of sectors such as business services (including ICT); financial services; manufacturing ( food and drink, advanced manufacturing and advanced engineering); life and health sciences; creative industries; retail; hotels and catering. Vacancies are advertised in JobCentres, Job and Benefit offices, online at www.jobcentreonline.com in local and provincial 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.

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. In order to cope with the future needs of the economy, we must ensure that effective careers services are accessible to everybody. To this end the Careers Service have recently introduced a pilot of Saturday opening for the Careers Resource Centre in central Belfast. By extending our opening hours, careers services will be more accessible to those clients who would otherwise have difficultly attending the office during the normal working week.

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.