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Exam results – what now?

13th August 2021

With thousands of students across Northern Ireland receiving exam results many will be asking themselves where they go from here or questioning previously made decisions. Head of the Northern Ireland Careers Service Frances O’Hara answers some frequently asked questions.

What can the Careers Service offer me?

Professionally qualified Careers Advisers provide young people and adults with impartial advice and guidance on a range of career related issues, including apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships, further and higher education, training, employment and voluntary work opportunities. Careers Advisers use labour market information and knowledge of the skills and qualities employers need to inform the guidance process.

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

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 a number of possibilities available and these will depend on your own 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.

Where will future jobs be?

A number of sectors have been identified by the Department for the Economy 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 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.

What can I do at a further education college?

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

What about apprenticeships?

An apprenticeship is a great way to start working and gain a qualification while earning money and learning at the same time. You are trained to a quality standard in your chosen occupational area. Learning takes place both on the job 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 higher level apprenticeships 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 higher level apprenticeship can also contact their local further education college.

What about training?

The Department for the Economy’s The Skills for Life and Work programme and the Northern Ireland Traineeships 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.

Is employment an option?

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 and they can help support you with your job search activities. The Careers Service website publishes monthly job posting trends information, provided by the Department’s economists and that is a useful way to keep informed of current labour market information.

For more information or to contact a Careers Adviser visit NI Direct.

Head on over to nijobfinder’s Career Advice Area where you’ll find everything from tips on creating a standout CV to a complete job interview guide.

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