Obtaining exam results is an exciting and important milestone in the life of a young person and making informed decisions about the various career options available is vital to effective career planning.

The Department for the Economy’s Careers Service is here to help, providing impartial advice and guidance on a range of career options including further and higher education, apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships, training, employment and voluntary work opportunities.

Frances O’Hara, Head of the Northern Ireland Careers Service, said: “It is important that those receiving exam results or making decisions about the next steps on their career paths have all the relevant information about future education, training and employment opportunities. Careers Advisers, as part of the guidance process, access the very latest information available, such as the Department’s recently updated Skills Barometer, which provides an up-to-date assessment of the future skills needs of the Northern Ireland economy. The report provides students and parents with information on the current and future labour market trends, as well as employment prospects by level of education and course.

“I would encourage students, to take advantage of the professional advice and guidance available from your careers adviser to help you take the next step. A comprehensive guidance service is available for those hoping to progress into post 16 and 18 opportunities at this time. Young people and parents can also access useful information through the Careers Service website at nidirect.gov.uk/careers which also contains contact details of careers offices throughout Northern Ireland.

“If you need immediate advice and guidance following your exam results, I recommend you use the online webchat facility at nidirect.gov.uk/services/chat-with-a-careers-adviser. You can contact a careers adviser by clicking on the ‘Chat with an adviser’ button or you can speak with an adviser by calling Tel: 0300 200 7820. This service is available from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. However, we have extended opening hours to 7.00pm on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 August to provide additional support for those getting their A level results.

“For those seeking advice following their GCSE results the opening hours have also been extended to 7.00pm on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 August 2019.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone well and to reassure you that the Careers Service team is available to help you access the pathway best suited to you and your career ambitions.”


Students across Northern Ireland are receiving exam results and, depending upon the results received, asking themselves ‘Where do I go from here?’

Head of the Northern Ireland Careers Service Frances O’Hara, answers some frequently asked questions.

Q)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.

Q) 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 or self employment or even a gap year.

Q) 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.

Further information on these and other sectors is available at nidirect.gov.uk/articles/skills-demand and from careers advisers.economy-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-skills-barometer-2019-update

Q) 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. You can find out more at www.nidirect.gov.uk/further-education

Q) What about training?

Apprenticeships – there are many benefits of following an apprenticeship qualification including earning while you learn.  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. Further information can be obtained from www.nidirect.gov.uk/apprenticeships.

Our FE colleges and universities in partnership with local employers also offer Higher Level Apprenticeships. As HLAs 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 FE College. Check nidirect.gov.uk/higher-level-apprenticeships.

In addition, the Department for the Economy’s Training for Success programme 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. For further information go to nidirect.gov.uk/skills

 Q) Is employment an option?

If you feel that full time education or training is not for you, employment may be an option.  Careers advisers can help you to perfect your job search skills, help with job applications and CVs, and to prepare for interviews.

To contact a Careers Adviser you can:

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