Decision time for A-level students

The Advertiser Series: Lucy Humphreys, NECC Policy Adviser. Lucy Humphreys, NECC Policy Adviser.

MANY of us will recall the clammy hands, the lip-biting and the long walk to school the morning of A-Level results day, writes Lucy Humphreys, NECC Policy Adviser.

For some it proved the summit of their educational climb through the school years and the jump-off point to work, university or an apprenticeship; for others the starter-pistol for the year-out Eurotour and for the unfortunate, it signalled the unenviable re-sit process and another year in the classroom.

Last Thursday, was the time to congratulate the successful and put a comforting arm around the disappointed, but every day since will have been filled with decision-making, assessing options and…most likely…drinking.

Assessing the regional performance, it was good to see the region bucking the national trend and maintaining last year’s pass rates while most other regions fell.

The distinct increase in the take-up of science and maths subjects is something that will provide a great deal of reassurance to North East businesses working across STEM industries who will be pleased to see significant strides being made to address skills gaps across traditionally strong North-East sectors.

It was slightly disappointing to see the continued decrease in the take-up of foreign languages, particularly as the Government has set such ambitious targets to increase international trade as a way to help bolster the UK’s economic health. Mastering a foreign language is an excellent way of preparing young people for the wide-range of opportunities available in today’s globalised world.

Continuous grade inflation in recent years has been something that’s caused a great deal of discussion, so the halting of this trend will go quite a way to restoring business confidence in A-level results.

While the results are encouraging and we congratulate the students, youth unemployment remains a long-standing challenge for our region to address and it is vital that people coming out of full time education are equipped with the skills to integrate into the North-East workforce.

We have seen an increasing appetite from schools, colleges and universities to engage with the business community and there are already some great programmes in place across our region that do just this.

However, we must persuade more businesses to get involved to ensure young people are given a realistic understanding of opportunities and careers within the North-East.

And as the region’s largest independent training provider, we know it is vital young people assess their next move and consider vocational pathways such as apprenticeships as they offer an increasingly attractive option to those seeking an alternative to university.

I’m sure this week will bring just as positive news as the GCSE results are published – good luck to all our young learners and we’ll be here to help you if you need us.

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