From education to employment

#ALevelResults2019 – Invest in a #mentor not university

Andy Scott, Serial entrepreneur, Founder and Chairman of

With the time for A Level and GCSE results upon us, the pressure is high for students to decide their future career at the young age of 16.

With university typically being the number one choice, it’s no surprise that there is a sense of failure among students who don’t achieve the grades they had anticipated.

Yet, this shouldn’t be perceived as a negative, instead we need to educate pupils of the wider opportunities that are ahead of them, regardless of what number or letter they have written on a piece of paper.

Instead of university, there are a variety of different routes to explore, one of those being investing in a mentor. Mentors provide such invaluable insight of the real working world that is impossible to learn and prepare in the classroom. By finding a mentor and getting experience at a young age, students will be far more prepared for the future regardless of where it lies.

Learn from the source

When you have a mentor, you can learn straight from the source. Instead of sitting in a room to learn the theory of a skill, learning and absorbing all the knowledge and mistakes of someone in the job will, in the long term, be quicker and so much more valuable. Mentors hold so much value for helping young people within a company, an industry or wider working experience. It provides a great opportunity for young people who are unsure of what they want to do and where they envision their career going to ask questions and understand how they can best pave the path to their own success.

Additionally, mentors can introduce them to a variety of different people in order to grow their network. A strong and varied network is your most important asset when building your career. If your mentor is in an industry you want to go into, having these contacts and the credibility of a mentor can bring great benefits in accelerating your career.

Work experience

Starting from the bottom and working your way up can be the most effective and educational method of becoming successful in a typical vocation. For example, if you were running a golf course, don’t go and get a degree in golf course management, instead you should learn all the different aspects of running a golf course including team work, respect and motivation that would catapult you to success, which up against a graduate of Golf course management with no experience you should always win.

At REL Capital, a young woman walked into our head office who wanted an admin role that we had already filled months before. However, on interviewing her we could see her talent and knew that she would be a valuable asset to the team. I was impressed by her determination and attitude and hired her there and then, finding and adapting a role for her to run two transport depots. I then helped and guided her in growing her career, ensuring that she always felt she had someone to ask any questions – no question is a stupid question!

It’s important for young people to rid themselves of fear of asking for opportunities, being held back because of their grades. As long as you have determination and passion, grades are not important. The harder you work, the luckier you become.

Start early and take risks

It’s widely accepted that we become more risk adverse as we get older. With more responsibilities on your shoulders, it can be hard to keep your head down and become a self-professed ‘workaholic.’ For those that have jumped onto the corporate ladder straight from university, the entrepreneurial leap out of the safety net can be scary, like jumping off a cliff to sacrifice the security that comes with a comfortable monthly salary.

However, if you’re young and without any responsibilities such as a family, take the chance. Learn and perfect a trade when you’re young and set up your own company. Again, your mentor can help guide you in decision making, ensuring that you have a guiding hand for whenever you’re feeling unsure. That stable voice will make all the difference.

Tradesmen and labourers, such as plumbers and electricians, can earn nearly two to three times more than a graduate fresh out of university. Learning a trade straight out of school gives the opportunity to earn while others are getting deeper into debt while at university, learning a potentially outdated theory.

Pay it forward

Once you have learnt from a mentor and reaped the success they bring, it’s important to then pay it forward and mentor someone else.

Finding the right mentor can be an arduous task, but when you find the right mentor the benefits are endless. Go to schools and share your story and experiences with those who are either nervous, or undecided on where they want to go following their GCSE or A-Level results; your wisdom will be invaluable for the right person, or people. Be prepared to commit and see that person grow, just like you when you were in their position.

No matter your grades this year, don’t let it define you. Getting a mentor will help you learn expertise straight away, without having to wait three years before you can put it into action. Getting work experience and pushing forward for opportunities in careers that you want to go into is what you need to do and stop yourself from being prevented from achieving your goals because of a grade on a piece of paper.

Andy Scott, Serial entrepreneur, Founder and Chairman of, a leading turnaround company that buys, owns and has 12 companies under management across five different sectors.

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