David Grailey is chief executive of NCFE, the national awarding organisation

A-Level results day – the countdown is on and nerves are running high. This week, thousands of young people across the country will either be celebrating or commiserating as they open that all-important envelope. Eyes awash with tears of relief, of joy, of disappointment. But what happens if the results that they're clutching aren't quite what they're expecting? What next?

A recent piece of research conducted by Which? University revealed that more than half of students in England and Wales have no back-up plan if they fail to get the grades they need to get to their university of choice. What's more, almost three-quarters of applicants (70%) have not researched the clearing process for unfilled degree places (as reported by the BBC).

So what are the options for these learners? Is there life beyond not getting into university? Well, Nick Davy, Higher Education Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges, has commented that there are a multitude of possibilities open to these young people including higher education offered by colleges, a range of professional certificates and diplomas or the option of an apprenticeship or higher apprenticeship in a range of occupations.

At NCFE, we couldn't agree more. Whilst university is the perfect route for many learners, others flourish through alternative training or a real work environment. Learners also need to think about the debt that they will accrue through going to university and consider their employment prospects at the end of their course.

It's clear that through careers guidance (or lack of it), many young people are surmising that university is their best passport to success. Despite evidence that apprenticeships can lead to top jobs and the government's ongoing work in promoting the value of work based training, it is still sadly viewed as a second rate option. The media hype surrounding A-Level results this week will likely be focused on university entrants, largely ignoring those who are going on to different things.

Young learners still take a big steer from their parents when choosing which path to tread and with this in mind, it's interesting to see that nearly two-thirds (63%) of parents don't understand apprenticeships well enough to explain them to their children (according to a survey carried out by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)). Many parents believe that apprenticeships are mainly geared towards boys and are only suitable for the less able.

In actuality, there are now 250 different types of apprenticeships available covering a huge variety of sectors. These apprenticeships are offered at a variety of levels and are designed to challenge and develop skills – they involve a lot of commitment and are certainly not the easy way out.

I'd like to finish by wishing good luck to all those learners who worked diligently for their exams and are feeling the pressure this week. My hope is that they don't feel limited by the grades which appear on that slip of paper. There's no doubt about it – university is fantastic, a life altering experience. However, there is a world of opportunity out there and I'd like to see more young people broadening their horizons and thinking differently about their future.

For more information on Apprenticeships versus Higher Education, you can take a look at NCFE's infographic available here.

David Grailey is chief executive of NCFE, the national awarding organisation

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page