Let me start by saying congratulations, I know through past and current experiences with my own children that this is a very stressful time and if you've recently got your results then you have already accomplished a great deal.
I imagine for some of you the decision of what happens next will have already been made, university places accepted and bags waiting to be packed. But for others, this decision will not be so clear, and if this is you, it's really important to look at all of the opportunities on offer.
I've got my results, now what do I do?
The most important thing to do now is really think about what you would like to do with your future, and then assess carefully what the best route is to get there. If you are keen to stay in Wales for the foreseeable future, a good place to start is researching which sectors are growing in the Welsh economy and what job opportunities are likely to arise in these over the coming years. This could give you a helpful steer and enable you to plan your education and training accordingly. A useful resource is the Where Now portal on Careers Wales's website, which has a wealth of information about the different opportunities available.
Which industries will be creating jobs in the future?
The Welsh Government has identified a number of sectors with the potential to grow over the next few years, particularly renewable energy, life sciences, creative industries, financial services, ICT, high performance automotive engineering and construction. . In some cases the growth of these sectors is due to a number of big developments happening in Wales that will demand more skilled workers. Among these are the Swansea Bay Lagoon Project, the planned Wylfa power station, the Circuit of Wales track and auto complex at Ebbw Vale and the development of the Wrexham Super Prison. It's always good to keep an eye on the latest developments set to take place in Wales as this will give you an idea of the types of jobs that will be needed in the future.
If not university, what else?
A good degree course chosen with a clear career goal is of course a sound bet for many people. For others an equally solid option would be an apprenticeship which provides on-the-job vocational training so you can earn as you learn. Any business in Wales can gain access to the Welsh Government's apprenticeship programme, so there should be something out there to suit you. What's more, with the Welsh Government prioritising its support for Higher Apprenticeships, the route offers a great platform for developing higher level skills and in preparing you for rapid career progression once qualified. By being an apprentice, you would be doing a real job for a real business with set targets to achieve.
What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a great opportunity to get a foot in the door of some of Wales's biggest and most vibrant industries as well as earning a decent wage, receiving training on the job and continual personal development opportunities. Alongside all of these benefits, apprenticeships are a viable option for kick-starting a career within a growing industry with the added bonus of qualifying debt free.
Without a degree will I be an attractive candidate to these growing industries?
There are some professions where having a degree is essential, but there are lots of professions that don't require a university degree as the entry requirement. In many cases you could do a degree part-time after you've started work. Equally you could pursue an apprenticeship and follow that up with various combinations of further and higher education qualifications, often sponsored by your employer. There are different ways of approaching your career preparation so don't feel under pressure to follow the crowd. Take advice and pick the best one for you.
Whichever route you choose keep the future in mind and secure whatever work experience you can to bolster your career ambition. Qualifications and skills are vitally important but the jobs market is competitive so always make sure you've got something to show and something to offer that will set you apart and give you the opportunity you really want.