A-levels aren’t the be all and end all | Jack Parsons



It’s that time again, A-level results are here. By now, students will have opened their dreaded envelope containing a list of small and, some people may argue, defining letters. For many, the letters will mark the end of years of study and seemingly endless exams.

Those that didn’t get the results they wanted probably experienced the usual routine. Rushed telephone calls to universities begging to reconsider an unachieved conditional offer. Last-minute searches through the UCAS clearance portal. Avoiding social media in case there are posts from friends and family asking about grades. Or worse, bragging about their own.

People often feel that not getting the grades, and then not getting into university, is an event associated with disgrace and failure.

However, that little envelope does not have more control over someone’s career success than they do themselves. Whether students got the grades they wanted, or didn’t, they are the only ones who can dictate what path their future takes.


Just how important are A-levels for young people to succeed?


Jeremy Clarkson once famously tweeted: “If your A-level results are disappointing, don’t worry. I got a C and two Us, and I’m currently on a superyacht in the Med”.

Whilst many of us may not be on a superyacht in the Mediterranean, he has a point. Achieving strong A-level results can of course open the door to many opportunities. However, less strong grades can also open the doors to many other exciting options.

Apprenticeships, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), Traineeships. There are more and more opportunities which don’t require degrees. By going down these routes, young people will instead gain invaluable skills, experience and arguably be three years ahead of their peers who decide to get a degree instead.

It is personality, experience and motivation that dictate employability. This is what makes people different, and therefore shine. Trust me, I worked in recruitment for a period of time so I should know! So, for those that didn’t quite get the grades they wanted, fear not.

How the education system can better support industry


The UK needs to address the skills gap and ensure that young people are well prepared for the working world. 75% of the workforce will be made up of millennials by 2025 and we need to make sure they have the support to succeed!

The education system can be updated to teach school leavers a huge number of transferable skills that will ease their transition into the workplace. These skills can include things such as coding, financial education and presentation skills.

Schools should also dedicate more time to teaching the wide variety of work and study options available to young people. Other than just university.

The new “degree”

Qualifications are just one consideration for an employer. Personality, ambition and ability to form relationships are just as important to succeed. If not, more so. Even those who achieve the academic results they want often don’t get the careers they aim for. The reality that every adult, employer and institution later comes to understand, is that A-levels are just a small part of what shapes our future lives.

Furthermore, interests change. Students drop out of university or change degree entirely. Many go on to get jobs that aren’t even related to their degree. How we are able to use and apply the skills we have developed is often far more valuable than the knowledge itself.
And as for that A4 piece of paper with numbers and letters on it? It doesn’t define you.
I strongly believe ambition and skills are the new degree for our youth. Having a strong work ethic and being passionate is vital.


This is a guest article from Jack Parsons, the CEO of yourfeed.
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