WITH the month’s inter-railing around the pricier tourist traps of Europe is over and the festival wristbands not yet rotted away, many eighteen year olds thought’s will turn to their A level results next week, writes Rachel Anderson of the NECC.

Again, no doubt, we will see the media falling over itself to bring us pictures of photogenic youngsters with impossibly bright (and debt filled) futures opening envelopes; then wheeling out ‘experts’ who look on, remember when they fitted into their 28 inch waist loon pants, and say that the exams aren’t as hard as they used to be. It’s nonsense of course and congratulations to all in advance.

The effort put in to passing exams by all involved, students and schools is heroic and students are relentlessly made aware that the stakes have never been higher in terms of having qualifications and experience.

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However, in preparing for those exams and choosing the subjects in the first place, we probably need more of a heroic effort in providing the best advice.

The arguments over hairdressers versus engineers have been well aired and I don’t intend to revisit them.

When we place so much emphasis on exams, qualifications and careers the least we should be able to do is give the best advice to students on the likely skill requirements, what career paths are available and what they will need to do the jobs in their local area. If we don’t do that properly at 14 when they are choosing their options, we can’t throw our hands up in horror when we somehow have a skills mis-match at 18.

Schools have a role in this and careers advice is offered, but employers have a huge effort to make. Links with schools through initiatives like the Foundation for Jobs are great but employers must realise it’s a crowded market place and need to sell their industries to students and parents. Although, at 14, parental input might be as welcome as Usain Bolt in a Glasgow pub, they do influence and are so often left out of the loop when it comes to careers guidance. For example, some parents of today’s teenagers might still associate engineering and manufacturing with factory closures and decline, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

By providing the most up to date advice on the economy and likely job roles we can ensure students make the most informed choice on a future career as possible.