Where to next for students?

Patricia Frazer, Careers Manager for Banbridge, Lurgan and Lisburn, at the Department for Employment and Learning's Careers Service.
Patricia Frazer, Careers Manager for Banbridge, Lurgan and Lisburn, at the Department for Employment and Learning's Careers Service.

NOW that the excitement and build-up has worn off, and results have been received, local students are being advised on where to turn next in their education and careers.

Patricia Frazer, Careers Manager for Banbridge, Lurgan and Lisburn, at the Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Service, congratulated students on their exam results and answers some frequently asked questions which are raised with careers advisers at this time of year.

“Congratulations to everyone who achieved their desired results this summer,” said Patricia.

“This is an exciting time - whether moving on to university, entering further education, training or going into employment, with these comes a great change.

“Enjoy and make the most of the opportunities presented in this new stage of your life.

“There will also be a number of disappointments at this time of year, but these can be overcome. There are many other options available and help is on-hand. For example the Careers Service has a team of professionally qualified careers advisers located in Careers Resource Centres, Job Centres and Jobs and Benefit Offices throughout Northern Ireland who are available to provide free and impartial careers information, advice and guidance to young people and adults.”

Below are a few of the questions which are frequently raised with the careers advisers at this time of year.

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

A. There are a number of possibilities open and these will depend on your own individual circumstances. I would strongly urge you to contact a careers adviser or your careers teacher at the earliest opportunity 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. Our Further Education colleges offer a wide range of vocational and other qualifications, including foundation degrees in a variety of areas.

Q. I hear that there is high competition for 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 given the current economic situation. It is important, therefore, that you choose the route best suited to your aspirations and abilities whilst taking account of future economic and labour market trends. Industry Factsheets have been produced by the Careers Service and the Sector Skills Councils to assist with occupational choice and career decision making. The Factsheets are available on the Careers Service website www.nidirect.gov.uk/careers and from careers advisers in Jobcentres, Careers Resource Centres and Jobs & Benefit Offices throughout Northern Ireland.

Q. I did better than expected and would like to explore options at other universities?

A. UCAS has introduced an Adjustment period to allow students who have exceeded the conditions of their firm choice to reconsider where and what to study. The Adjustment process is available from A level results day (16 August for 2012) until 31 August. Your individual Adjustment period starts on 16 August or when your conditional firm (CF) choice changes to unconditional firm (UF), whichever is later. From this time you have a maximum of five calendar days (five 24 hour periods, including Saturdays and Sundays) to register and secure an alternative course, if you decide this is what you want to do.

If you want to try to find an alternative course you must register to use Adjustment so universities and colleges can view your application.

Q I have met the conditions of my university offer but would now like to take a gap year. Is this possible?

A. Deferring entry to university is at the discretion of the individual institution. It would be advisable to check the UCAS website, contact the university directly or speak to a careers adviser or careers teacher.

Q. I’m not sure that the university route is the right one for me. What about training?

A. One option you could consider is an apprenticeship - 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

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