From education to employment

A-Level Results Day 2023: Sector Response

Exams and formal assessments in England, including GCSEs, AS levels, A-levels, T-Levels and VTQs, went ahead as normal this summer, following major disruptions in previous years exams due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

This year, A-level, T-Level and VTQ Results day is on the 17th of August, with GCSE results day the following week on the 24th of August.

See our sector response piece in the run-up to results day 2023 here.

See the sector’s analysis here.

Thousands of pupils secure place at their first-choice university as grading returns to normal

  • University acceptances up on 2019, with 79% getting first their choice
  • 27.2% of A levels at grade A or above, compared to 25.4% in 2019
  • 90.5% of T Level students achieve a Pass or above in the second year of the flagship new qualification
  • Results back to pre-pandemic levels in an important step back to normal

Young people across England are celebrating exam results this morning – with thousands of them moving on to university, apprenticeships and the world of work.

Overall, 79% of 18-year-old pupils in the UK receiving a decision today have gained a place at their first choice university.

16, 530 students who received free school meals (FSM) have also gained a place at university which is a 60% increase from 2019.

In a sign that grading is returning to normal, this year, 27.2% of UK entries for A levels achieved a grade A and above, slightly higher than 25.4% in 2019, before the pandemic. 76% of UK entries achieved a grade C and above, in line with 75.9% in 2019. 

This year has seen Mathematics continue to be the most popular A Level since 2014 as well as record-breaking numbers of A Level entries in Computing, producing over 16% more entries than last year. The data from this year’s results day show 34.8% of entries from free schools and 25.4% of entries from academies getting a grade A or above – compared to 22.0% of entries from Local Authority maintained comprehensive schools. 

Around 3,400 T Level students received their results today as the second-ever cohort completed the new, high-quality technical qualification. 90.5% of T Level students achieved a Pass or above.

T Levels offer a wide range of progression options as many of these students will also go on to do apprenticeships, and UCAS has today revealed that 1,220 T Level students have been accepted into university, demonstrating the value and reputation of these qualifications.

Over 250,000 certificates were awarded for those completing their Level 3 vocational and technical qualifications. 

Gillian Keegan

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:

“Congratulations to everyone receiving results today. There are more opportunities than ever before so whatever your results, I’m sure you will have a bright future ahead of you.

“It’s fantastic to see the number of young people accepted to university – including to their first choice – continue to be up on the years before the pandemic, while thousands more go off to exciting apprenticeships and the world of work.

“As always, there are a wide range of fantastic options for those who did not get the results they hoped for, and students can find out more by visiting the UCAS website or through the National Careers Service.”

College Contribution to Results Day 2023

There are over 1.2 million 16-18-year-olds studying in publicly funded education. Of those, around half (c. 49%) are studying in colleges, 43% in schools and 8% in work-based learning. There are more publicly funded 16–18-year-olds in colleges than in schools.

Qualification levels:

  • 2% (c. 26,500) are studying at Level 1.
  • 14% (c. 162,000) are studying at Level 2.
  • 73% (c. 870,000) are studying at Level 3.
  • 11% on other types of courses.

Level 3:

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of publicly funded 16-18 year olds (c. 870,000 students) are studying at Level 3. Over half a million of these Level 3 students are studying for A Levels, including over 140,000 also taking some Applied General qualifications in mixed programmes.

Over 320,000 level 3 students are studying Level 3 vocational and technical qualifications as their main programme, including T Levels and Applied Generals, such as BTECs and Cambridge Technical.

Colleges have:

  • 90% of T Level students.
  • 80% of Level 3 vocational and technical students.
  • 44% of all Level 3 students.
  • 23% of A Level students.

Sector Response

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

“We should all be proud of the students who are finding out their results today – these are young people who have had to cope with enormous disruptions to their education and training during the pandemic and the uncertainties and challenges that presented to them. To see them achieve, having worked so hard is inspiring to see.

“As in any normal year there will be students disappointed as well as those delighted with their results. Our advice is always to focus on qualifications and grades as a passport to the next stage of study, training or employment rather than obsess about the grades themselves. Universities and colleges will be ensuring that every applicant is treated fairly and places on courses and jobs are available for as many as possible as is the case every year.

“We must also celebrate everybody who has studied and trained – not just those who took A levels. There are more than 320,000 students who have taken technical and vocational qualifications – including a small number taking the new T levels – these are tomorrow’s engineers, mechanics, healthcare workers, and all of those who help drive the country forward. We want them to feel special today and to celebrate their achievements equally and alongside those A Level student who are traditionally applauded on results day.

“Colleges across the country have played a major part in the successes today, alongside school sixth forms and staff and leaders of those institutions should be proud of their part in helping young people make the transition to adulthood through their learning. Around half of all 16-18 year olds in publicly funded education study in colleges across a range of qualifications including vocational and technical qualifications, applied general qualifications and A Levels.

“Colleges cater for all types of learning, training, skills and also play a significant part in helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds make progress – with many students going on to achieve phenomenal successes, despite the pressures they face from the cost of living crisis or previous struggles in education and training.”

Vivienne Stern MBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK congratulates students on Results Day 2023:

“Congratulations to all those receiving their results today. Students have faced multiple challenges to their education over the last few years, and today they, their friends and their families should be feeling immensely proud of all that they have achieved.

“For those who are setting out on the journey towards university today, it is a momentous day. For me, my time at university was the best of my life. I know that it will open up opportunities for thousands of students. For those who are still finalising their plans through Clearing, please remember that there is lots of good impartial advice available via UCAS, online, on social media and through their phone lines. Universities are also on hand to support you.”

Amy Caton, Senior Manager of Digital Talent and Impact at BT Group said:

“As millions of young people get their A-Level results, many are searching for fulfilling and valuable jobs. However, as they work to launch their careers, they may struggle to demonstrate that they have the skills required for these roles. Young people must have the proper support and resources to transition from their studies into work.  

“BT Group is committed to helping people gain the digital skills needed for the modern work force. Our founding partnership with Avado’s FastFutures programme, a free, online work-readiness and personal skills programme for 18 to 24-year-olds offers vital support to young people on entering the workforce. We encourage school leavers to explore at the routes into work that inspire them the most.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Congratulations to students and their teachers on this year’s A-level and VTQ results. These are demanding qualifications requiring extensive knowledge, skill and application. Everybody involved should be proud of what they have achieved.

“The proportion of students achieving the top A-level grades has fallen sharply this year, not as a result of underperformance, but because the grading system has been adjusted in the wake of the pandemic so that the distribution of grades in England is similar to 2019.

“This adjustment is a return to normality after the pandemic which necessitated the use of different approaches to grading.

“Whatever the rationale, however, it will feel like a bruising experience for many students, as well as schools and colleges which will have seen a sharp dip in top grades compared to the past three years.

“It is important to remember that these students also suffered the disruption of the pandemic, and this will have impacted particularly on those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“It is likely then that results at school or college level and between areas will be affected by these varying circumstances and it is important that parents, governors, politicians and commentators understand that this year is not comparable with 2019 or any other previous year.

“Everything possible too must be done to support these students. Universities must ensure their welfare systems provide the emotional and academic support some will require. The government must ensure employers are fully aware of the changes to grading standards.

“We would urge students who are disappointed by their grades not to panic but to talk to their teachers about the options available to them and we wish all the young people receiving their results today every success for the future.”

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:   

“The Union congratulates all students receiving their A-Level, Applied General and other Level 3 qualification results today. They have kept going through the pandemic and through years of austerity. Their determination and resilience, alongside the efforts of educators, parents and carers who support them, deserve great credit. 

‘Exam results should not be taken as a valid measure of school quality. It would be wrong to compare results at a national level with those of previous years. It would also be wrong to use them to compare individual schools and colleges. Different methods of assessment have been used, different levels of pandemic disruption have been experienced and Ofqual has implemented different approaches to grading from one year to the next.  

‘The efforts of parents, students and teachers are not matched by the quality of the exam system. The decision to return abruptly to pre-pandemic grading risks damaging the future of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, whose lives and learning have already been hit hard by the pandemic.  

‘The exam system itself is badly in need of reform. The ways in which students and their schools and colleges are judged does not do them justice. Just as is the case with blunt, one-word Ofsted judgments, one figure calculated from the results of exams cannot alone demonstrate everything about the education on offer at a school or college. Relying on end-of-course exams does not allow students to demonstrate all they are capable of. 

‘As the Independent Assessment Commission has argued, the demand for change is growing. There is a wide consensus that a curriculum and assessment review in England working towards a broader, fairer, more reliable and more inclusive assessment system is urgently required”. 

Vix Lowthion, Green Party Lifelong Education spokesperson, said: 

“All students collecting their results today should be applauded for their unique achievements – this Class of 2023 never sat their formal GCSE exams, and so congratulations are in order for all staff and students who have worked hard to get their grades.

“Yet the disadvantage gap at A Level remains too wide, with poorer pupils continuing to lag behind the most privileged. At current rates of progress this gap will never close. Class sizes in state schools in England are the highest since records began – and this Conservative government has no policies, plans or funding proposals to address this.

“In addition to the challenges in schools, students who are planning to take the next steps and go to university face the significant costs of tuition fees and also possible continued disruption due to industrial action as a consequence of the refusal of some universities to negotiate a resolution with lecturers. 

“Young people achieving today are owed a lot more support throughout their future than they have been granted by this government in the last 13 years. 

“The Green Party remains committed to abolishing tuition fees for university students, and to properly funding education at school, vocational and university levels. It is only through investing in our young people that we can ensure they have all the opportunities that they deserve.”

Alexia Pedersen, VP of EMEA at O’Reilly said:

“As students collect their A-level results, many will have gained valuable skills around time management -choosing when to learn, when to take a break, and when to apply knowledge, an important quality as they continue their education or move into the workplace. It is encouraging to see the number of apprenticeships has risen from last year, providing an opportunity for students to learn within the flow of work, gain new skills and build relevant experience. 

“Early education is the first step in tackling the growing skills gap. To develop the current workforce and identify new talent, learning and development needs to take centre stage, with enterprises of all sizes needing to rethink how they train and upskill employees to ensure they keep pace with the new way of working.

“L&D has the potential to democratise learning and create a major shift in how companies hire skills and cultivate fresh talent amid the UK’s growing skills shortage. Companies will create a more diverse talent pool with increased access to upskilling and reskilling tech-related L&D opportunities. At the same time, this will enable organisations to focus on hiring for potential rather than just experience. The shift towards democratised L&D will enable companies to more easily hire, develop and retain the best talent, which will ultimately enable overall productivity.”

Hadi Moussa, Managing Director, EMEA for Coursera

“Naturally, A-Level Results Day is an anxious time for many young people. This year, anxieties are more fraught than ever, with fierce competition expected for top university places. No matter their post-school plans, however, it’s crucial that  students are aware of the variety of opportunities available to them when it comes to forging their career path. 

“For many, the next step will be university, but, for all, it’s important to keep in mind that degrees are no longer the sole pathway towards a successful future. Indeed, following the government’s announcement to crack down on ‘rip off’ degrees, coupled with the average student loan repayment reaching £42,000, it is unsurprising that many young people have been left considering whether traditional degrees can justify the time, financial, and opportunity costs.

“In this context, though a meaningful degree premium continues to exist for most degree-holders, it’s still imperative that all of the UK’s school leavers ask themselves the crucial question: will my intended qualification arm me with the skills I need to succeed in today’s fast-changing world of work?

“Coursera’s own research found that less than half of Brits (48%) with a degree use the skills they learned at university in their jobs regularly, with 39% feeling that their course has not prepared them for their job role. While degrees continue to typically yield improved job opportunities, there are now a variety of educational pathways available to learners – such as microcredentials and professional certificates – that are better equipped to skill them quickly for today’s in-demand jobs.

“Such courses can be taken irrespective of A-Level attainment, meaning that even those who have missed target grades can find employer-recognised pathways to acquiring the skills that will transform their futures. In addition, an increasing number of microcredentials also ‘stack’ into university degrees, meaning that those with these qualifications can deploy them to launch a career or progress to higher education with a more solid skills base. For example, learners who complete Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate can use their qualification to count towards the University of London’s BsC in Computer Science – or to pursue an immediate career in the field.

“At Coursera, we’re seeing that Gen-Z are well-attuned to the changing labour market, and are increasingly taking courses to bolster their skills in specific in-demand areas. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) courses currently constitute around 15% of total course enrollments, while Leadership & Management, Communication and Strategy are the top three areas in which young people are upskilling themselves when it comes to equipping themselves with human skills. 

“So as the next generation of students take their next steps towards the world of work, we would encourage them to remember that, just as the world of work is rapidly changing, so must our approach to skills. No matter their results, there is now a wealth of flexible, accessible learning opportunities available to them – opportunities that may not have been available to previous generations, and that will play a central role in preparing the UK’s young people for a flourishing future.”

David Morgan, Chief Executive, Career Development Institute

“This year’s big results day story is that the government have returned grade profiles to their pre-pandemic levels after three years of higher grades. While they need to return to longer-term levels, England has made the change a year earlier than Wales and Northern Ireland and some called for the correction to take place over a number of years. Our real concern is the risk of widening the attainment gap between those from higher and lower income backgrounds. Young people from lower incomes were less likely to have had additional support during the pandemic disruption and this could limit their ability to move onto the next stage of their education, training or work.

“This could be exacerbated by the continuing rise in the number of 18-year-olds in the population, intensifying competition for degree places. Again, it is those most disadvantaged who are likely to be negatively affected and there needs to be a clear focus on supporting them to minimise the gap in opportunity.

“The good news is the continued expansion of alternative routes such as apprenticeships up to degree level that don’t leave students with a large debt and include valuable experience in the workplace. Higher Technical Qualifications also offer a route to gain skills valued by employers and many young people may directly enter the world of work or take time to re-sit exams or gain other experiences.

“Parents, carers and teachers may not have experience or knowledge of all these routes, so it’s important at such a critical transition point that young people have access to impartial, expert advice from the Careers Advisers in schools and colleges. They support young people in defining what they want from their career, advise on the options for their next step and support with the application process as well as any barriers they may face. It’s important that young people make the right choice for them and are confident in their next step.”

Melanie Waters, Managing Director of Trade-Up and Checkatrade’s new Get In campaign, said:

“We’d like to extend our congratulations to all students celebrating their A Level results today after two years of hard work. This next phase of life is the start of something new filled with exciting opportunities, no matter what the results.

“As students think about their futures, our team are urging anyone who isn’t sure what to do as their next steps to consider a career in the trades as an electrician, plumber or carpenter.  

“Recent figures released in our Trade Skills Index have highlighted the UK’s enormous skills gap. Put simply, by 2032, we will require a staggering one million new tradespeople just to keep pace with demand. This gap is the result of various factors including Brexit, an ageing workforce, the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

“Firms across the industry responsible for crucial parts of our economy such as housebuilding are now desperate that on this Results Day, more and more young people will consider this the opportunity to  become a highly skilled tradesperson such as a builder, plumber, carpenter, or electrician.

“These jobs are in huge demand in a stable industry offering superb security. They are also rewarding, well paid and come with great benefits, and in many cases the potential to earn up to around £35,000 within a few years of qualifying. Many offer apprenticeships too, meaning young people can earn while they learn.

“With that in mind, we’re launching a new programme called Get In. Through this initiative, we’re encouraging young people to visit our About Apprenticeships website and submit their CVs so we can connect them with brilliant employers to secure their future.”

Dan Hutchinson, Vice-President, HR, UK & Ireland, Schneider Electric: 

“As A-level students grapple with tougher marking this year, there is bound to be more anxiety about clearing and next steps. While many will still have their sights set on university, alternative career routes, like apprenticeships, shouldn’t be ruled out. Fostering both technical and interpersonal skills directly in the workforce, these can be invaluable – especially for those most affected by the pandemic’s educational disruptions. They are also crucial to shape much needed talent to future-proof the workforce and support the government’s focus on greener jobs. 

“This year, we’ve seen increasing demand and doubled the number of opportunities for our Schneider Electric UK&I apprentice scheme. But we see there is still a general lack of awareness in the market about their benefits. Often, students don’t know where to start and perceive roles to be limited to manual labour. Businesses have a vital role to play in changing perceptions. This means investing more in relationships with education providers, starting with young school pupils, to increase understanding of the broad and valuable opportunities available.”

“Today may mark the beginning of the future, but it isn’t career defining. Students should be reassured that there are many options available to help them to thrive and more than one route to success.”  

Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said:

“Sixth form college students have achieved truly remarkable successes once again, with outstanding exam results and countless wonderful stories of happy students taking up places at their first choice destinations. This is testament to the talent, skill and relentless focus on high standards that characterise the students and their teachers across the sixth form college sector. Of course, results this year are engineered to look more like those of 2019, before Covid struck, so comparison with the last two years is unhelpful. What matters is that universities and employers understand this and are adjusting their requirements in line with this year’s grades.”

Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“While this year’s results are a reflection of the inevitable fluctuation in grades caused by the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, they also reflect the Government’s choice to withdraw virtually all of the mitigations which were rightfully put in place in the last two years to account for the disruption to learning

“Given the particular circumstances of the last few years seeking to draw conclusions about or comparisons with the performance of previous cohorts would be unfair and misleading.

“Students and teachers have continued to work as hard as ever to secure these year’s results and they should be congratulated for their efforts.

“However, the widening of the attainment gap between disadvantaged students and their peers likely to be reflected in these results demands further reflection and action.

“We warned against a shift to a virtually ‘business as usual’ approach to this year’s exams by ministers, which rested on the erroneous assumption that the disruptive impact of the pandemic on pupils’ learning had largely subsided.

“A return to pre-pandemic arrangements may have been easier to justify had the Government’s strategy of education recovery not been so inadequate and unambitious.

“The approach has rested in large part on the National Tuition Programme which has been plagued with flaws. The strategy has failed to come anywhere close to meeting the depth of educational, social and emotional needs which exist within the pupil population. Schools have been largely left to pick up the pieces and support their pupils in isolation, without the expert and external support required.

“The predictable outcome is that the most disadvantaged students have been particularly let down by this Government which has yet again shown its disregard for the life chances of those most in need of its support.”

Sir Peter Lampl, Founder and Chairman of the Sutton Trust and Chairman of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

“Today’s results mark a major milestone in the lives of the Covid generation, who have faced huge disruption to their education in recent years. All youngsters receiving their results today should be proud of their achievements in the face of major challenges.

“The overall picture today is one of growing disparity between the most and least well off young people. There are significant regional differences in attainment, with top grades falling most in the North East while they have increased most in London and the South East, in line with patterns of regional prosperity. Likewise, the gap in those achieving top grades has widened between those at independent and state schools.

“Comparing this year’s university acceptances to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, the gap between the most and least deprived pupils has widened and is now at levels last seen a decade ago. However, it has narrowed slightly since last year.

“The large increase seen in university acceptances for students eligible for free school meals is in line with the huge jump in FSM eligibility since 2019, as more and more families have fallen into poverty during the pandemic and cost of living crisis.”

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President EMEA,Skillsoft:

“This year’s 17.6% increase in the number of girls taking Computing is hopefully a good indication that things are moving in the right direction. However, these A-Level results must not be a signal to become complacent, particularly following last month’s fall in the number of girls taking Computing at degree level.

“STEM subjects remain very male-dominated, putting off over a quarter of female students. Old-fashioned biases can still creep in and influence young girls’ decisions,not just in selecting A-Level subjects but when pursuing higher education or looking to join the career ladder. We still have a long way to go before those are fully behind us, and need to make sure STEM is a place girls feel welcome and inspired. 

“The Government, schools and businesses need to do far more to encourage girls in these areas. For example, offering younger female students’ opportunities to learn to code or build websites can spark an interest in technology earlier while helping quell doubts. Organisations could also provide computing clubs for young girls or visit schools and career fairs to highlight opportunities. It all comes down to investing early in our female students and continually reminding them that they belong.”

Hannah Birch, MD Digital at Node4:

“It is fantastic to see that a significant 17.6% more girls are studying computing at A-Level than last year, marking a positive upward trend over the past five years. With women making up less than a third of the workforce, we desperately need more women in STEM so this is a hugely positive step in the right direction.

“Yet, there is still a continued disparity between the number of girls studying computing compared to boys, with girls making up just 15.1% of total students. We have far more work to do to make STEM subjects and careers accessible to girls. Many will choose not to study computing, even if they are passionate about it, because it continues to be perceived as a male-dominated arena and they don’t see a future career in the industry. This desperately needs to change, and schools and technology companies must do more to encourage girls to study these subjects and present them as fulfilling and exciting careers for women. 

“In my role as a governor at a school, and as a woman in tech myself, I have done a lot of work speaking to girls about the possibilities of a career in technology. Whilst this is rewarding, it is also frustrating to hear the lack of information that these young women have. I remember speaking with to two girls in their final year of A-Level studies who had plans to work in a nursery. Not to say that it isn’t a rewarding career, but when I told them about my typical day and they understood better what a career in tech could look like, they were really interested and said that they wished they had made different choices. By that point, they had almost finished their studies and their university places or job offers were secured– ultimately, it was too late for them. For me it was proof that girls are not being guided in the best way about what opportunities are available to them, especially when it comes to a career in technology. It is crucial we start having these conversations with girls earlier on in their education for when they make decisions that set them up for the future.”

Sam Tuckett, Associate Director at the Education Policy Institute, said:

“Congratulations to the cohort of students completing their Level 3 studies study. Their final years in education have been far from straightforward and it’s important that universities, colleges, and employers remember this as they progress into further study or employment. As was the government’s plan, the grading distribution this year has been brought far closer to that of 2019 than in any of the last 3 years. 26.5% of entries were awarded an A or A* this year, compared with 25.2% in 2019, and 35.9% in 2022. While there was no perfect solution to returning to pre-pandemic grading, the gradual, multi-year approach is a reasonable compromise.”

“Concerningly, while nationally grades have returned to roughly 2019 levels, today’s data reveals regional variation in outcomes has increased since 2019, with the gap in outcomes between the north of England and the south having widened. In Yorkshire and The Humber, a lower proportion of entries were awarded A or A*, with the share of top decreasing from 23.2% in 2019 to 23.0% in 2023. Similarly, the North East’s share of the top grades fell from 23.0% to 22.0%. Students in all other regions were awarded higher proportions of top grades than in 2019, with London’s share of A or A* grades increasing by 3.1 percentage points. The falling outcomes in parts of northern England, where disadvantage levels are higher on average, may be the result of the unequal impact of pandemic on different groups of students. Further investigation of data that is released later in the year will help to clarify this.”

Writing for policy platform, CapX, Mark Bremner, Chief Executive of MBKB, (Ofsted outstanding apprenticeship provider), has warned that apprenticeships are not perfect as “coordinated reform of both higher and further education” is needed.

This comes in the lead-up to A Level Results Day, when it is predicted that tens of thousands of students will be left disappointed as nearly 100,000 fewer As and A*s could be awarded, casting a shadow on university applications and leaving vocational routes in potentially high demand. 

While acknowledging the “enormous potential” apprenticeships offer young people, he declared the government has an “obligation to maximise that potential”, showing particular concern over the high dropout rate: over half (53 per cent) of apprentices fail to complete their qualification, in contrast to 6.3 per cent of university students.  

Anton Roe, CEO at MHR, commented:

“So many A-Level students are set to fall short of the conditions stipulated in their University offers and many are no doubt worried about the potential implications for their future career. But, the reality is that University costs at least £27,000 just for tuition with hefty student loans, rent and living costs on top of that. Is it worth it? For some it will be, but, for others, it’s important to remember that it’s not the be all and end all and they have so many options now available to them. The emphasis on getting the right people through the door and retaining them for the long-term is a massive priority for businesses, and that means getting people in early and training them up appropriately.

We’ve seen the enormous benefits of this first-hand at MHR and our message today is don’t hang absolutely everything on those grades – there are so many options out there!

Melanie Waters, Managing Director of Trade-Up and Checkatrade’s new Get In campaign, said:

We’d like to extend our congratulations to all students celebrating their A Level results today after two years of hard work. This next phase of life is the start of something new filled with exciting opportunities, no matter what the results.

As students think about their futures, our team are urging anyone who isn’t sure what to do as their next steps to consider a career in the trades as an electrician, plumber or carpenter.  

Recent figures released in our Trade Skills Index have highlighted the UK’s enormous skills gap. Put simply, by 2032, we will require a staggering one million new tradespeople just to keep pace with demand. This gap is the result of various factors including Brexit, an ageing workforce, the pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

“Firms across the industry responsible for crucial parts of our economy such as housebuilding are now desperate that on this Results Day, more and more young people will consider this the opportunity to  become a highly skilled tradesperson such as a builder, plumber, carpenter, or electrician.

“These jobs are in huge demand in a stable industry offering superb security. They are also rewarding, well paid and come with great benefits, and in many cases the potential to earn up to around £35,000 within a few years of qualifying. Many offer apprenticeships too, meaning young people can earn while they learn.

“With that in mind, we’re launching a new programme called Get In. Through this initiative, we’re encouraging young people to visit our About Apprenticeships website and submit their CVs so we can connect them with brilliant employers to secure their future.

Kieron Rees, Assistant Director at Universities Wales, said:

“Congratulations to all students collecting their results today.  

“This is an important day for many students. Those receiving their results should be exceptionally proud of what they have accomplished and for the determination and resilience they have shown.  

“Students can now look forward to the next step on their journey, which, for many, will include studying at university. 

“It’s great to see that so many young people in Wales continue to value the benefits of university, and we’re delighted that students continue to recognise the distinct offer and unique opportunities that universities in Wales offer. 

“For those who did not get the results they had hoped, or are still undecided, there are many options in Wales available to students through clearing. Universities throughout Wales are providing places through clearing and have admissions teams waiting to advise students on the options available to them.”

Robert West, CBI Head of Education & Skills, said: 

“Congratulations to all those receiving their A level and T level results today, and to those receiving their vocational and technical qualification results. The disruption to students’ education due to Covid-19 should not be underestimated. These have been difficult years and both students and teachers alike have overcome unprecedented challenges. They should all be proud of their achievements.”

On A levels, Robert said: 

“Top grades at A level have been harder to achieve due to the return to pre-pandemic grading. It was good to see the continuing popularity of maths as an A level subject as well as a growth in take up of the social sciences. The UK needs a broad range of skills including transferable essential skills such as communication, problem solving and teamwork. Firms across the UK, and the CBI’s Trade Association members, including the Engineering and Machine Alliance, no doubt value those skills highly.”   

On regional differences, Robert said: 

“In 2022, the gap between the performance of students in the North of England and students in the South widened, and it is disappointing to see this trend continuing. The challenges facing schools and colleges in the North of England have been well documented, and it is something our regional teams based in Newcastle, Leeds and Cheshire regularly talk to me about. But we are still awaiting significant policy changes that address the root causes of the problems. The Government needs to turn words into action when it comes to levelling up and regional growth to tackle these challenges.  

John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said:

‘A huge congratulations to each and every student receiving their qualification results today. The past few years have been challenging for all students, who have worked incredibly hard throughout their studies.

‘There are many exciting opportunities awaiting all students receiving their results today. Many will be heading off to higher education, either to their first choice, or another course through Clearing. For those going through Clearing, Discover Uni has lots of information and students can compare courses they’re interested in studying. Other students might be considering degree apprenticeships or other higher education options.

‘We will be closely reviewing the outcomes and destinations of students to ensure that universities and colleges continue to meet our regulatory expectations, and do all they can to ensure those who want to benefit from higher education have equal opportunities to do so.’

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

“Congratulations to all those students who received their results today, whether that was A Levels, AS Levels, T Levels or BTecs. For many the exams they took were the first formal exams they have ever sat and they also endured the full brunt of the pandemic on their education.  

“While every single student should be immensely proud of the results they have received today, there are thousands who will have missed out on the grades they hoped for.

“To those students, Rishi Sunak must apologise for the 28 million days of lost learning during the pandemic and for his refusal to invest in COVID catch-up programmes.

“No child should be left behind or forced to miss out on a university place because of this Government’s incompetence.”

Sarah Danzl, CMO of Skillable on why exam results are not an indicator of future success said:

“In the midst of exam results season, if those results aren’t quite what you’d expect, all is not lost. Today’s employers are looking for talent that they can grow long-term, and grades are only part of what they’re looking for when they’re assessing your skills. More employers, like IBM, Walmart, and Boeing are looking at skills over credentials when hiring employees. 

“It’s worth focusing on how you can build practical experiences to show employers that you have the skills they need. Internships, volunteering, and apprenticeships are some ways to practice skills. Some employers also offer hands-on courses and ‘skill’ labs that focus on specific digital, management, sales, and marketing skills. The more you practice a skill, the more confident you’ll feel when applying it to a role and that will come across during interviews with employers. 

“As you embark on the next stage of your growth, whether that’s returning for another school term, to college, or employment, remember that future employers will be looking at your overall skills and aptitude for learning. Grades are a moment in time, they become increasingly outdated as your career progresses. So focus on cultivating a lasting habit of building and refining your skills. That mindset, not your grades, will ultimately determine your career trajectory.”

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