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EXAMS | Next steps | “Sound careers advice + informed decisions vital to effective career planning”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds is advising those receiving their results, and their parents, to make use of the assistance offered by her Department’s Careers Service.

With the A level results being published today and GSCE results following on 20 August, the Minister said:

“The need to take sound advice and making informed decisions is vitally important to effective career planning, especially at this time as our economy works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. For many young people, obtaining results is often a significant milestone and I would encourage students to take advantage of professional careers guidance in order to make well informed decisions.”

The Minister continued:

“I understand that this can be a stressful time for young people, and perhaps this year more than ever, but I would like to reassure everyone that help and advice is available. My Department’s Careers Service can help young people align their career aspirations with the immediate and future needs of the labour market. Careers advisers have access to up-to-date information on employment trends provided by the Department’s economists and offer impartial advice and guidance on career pathways including further and higher education, training, and employment, including apprenticeships.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to offer all who are either receiving or waiting for their results my very best wishes and reassure you that the Careers Service team is ready and waiting to help you access the pathway best suited to you and your career ambitions.”

Head of the Careers Service, Frances O’Hara, said:

“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. Young people and parents can also access useful information at


which also contains contact details of careers offices throughout Northern Ireland.

"If you need immediate advice and guidance following your results I recommend you use the online webchat facility. This facility can be accessed at


You can contact a careers adviser by clicking on the “Chat with an adviser” button, or you can speak with an adviser by calling 0300 200 7820.

"Webchat and phone opening hours will be extended and advisers will be available via webchat and telephone from 9.30am to 7.00pm on Thursday 13 and Friday 14 August and again on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 August.”


Students across Northern Ireland are receiving 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 including apprenticeships, 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, 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:


and from careers advisers.


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 (HLAs) etc.“

You can find out more at:


Q.​​ What about apprenticeships?

“If you want to start work an apprenticeship is great way to get qualification while 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:


“Our further education 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 HLA can also contact their local further education college.”


Q.​ What about Training?

“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:


Q.​​ Is employment an option?

“The current labour market is extremely competitive, and therefore individuals may wish to use this time to upskill in order to make them better able to compete. However, there are still jobs available and Careers Advisers can help you to explore job vacancies, they can help support you with your job search activities including help with your CV, applications forms and to prepare for interviews.

“The Careers Service website publishes monthly job posting trends information, provided by the Department’s economists and that is a really useful way to keep informed of current labour market information.”

This can be found at:


“There are more current and future opportunities in areas where there are skills shortages, in particular, those relating to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).”

Up to date labour market information is available on the following websites:




To contact a Careers Adviser you can:

• Chat with a careers adviser online at:


• Call 0300 200 7820, or

• Go online at www.nidirect.gov