There was celebration and some commiseration across the UK in the last week as A-level and GCSE results were opened by expectant students in schools and colleges. The press analysed the various statistics at length, with the gap between boys and girls' A-level results proving to be at its largest in 11 years, and the pass rate of GCSEs falling from 98.8% to 98.5%.
Though university remains one of the most popular choices for school leavers, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has suggested that school leavers look to apprenticeships and training schemes to further their careers. It's projected that the construction industry will create 200,000 more jobs in the next five years, making it a viable option for many young people.
Steve Radley, who is Policy and Strategic Planning Director at CITB has said that "with determination and hard work there are plenty of opportunities to move up the career ladder in the construction industry and the earnings potential is substantial." Though there have been reports of improvements in the labour market, particularly for 'NEETs' (young people who are not in education, employment or training), the number of which has fallen to 13.3%, plenty of young people will be looking for different options since the rise in university tuition fees, and the "earnings potential" that Radley speaks off is a very welcome prospect.
For those who are undecided, or have opened grades that weren't quite what they expected, James Staniforth, the Principal of Strode College in Somerset believes that "a fresh start at college or an apprenticeship could be the answer". With people given the chance to train and earn at the same time, it's a great alternative for anyone who thinks the academic route might not be for them.
The one thing left, it seems, is for schools and colleges to improve their careers' services and give young people more of an opportunity to explore their career options within industry and construction. The National Careers' Service has a wealth of information on its site, but Ollie Sidwell, the co-founder of Rate My Apprenticeship thinks schools aren't providing their students with enough help or information. Sidwell claims that the current advice is biased towards universities and pushes even reluctant students towards a degree.
With more options presenting themselves and more jobs in construction being created, it's clear that there needs to be a culture change in British schools that will direct some people towards a building site or plant, rather than a university.
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