A Level Economics

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 - Article, career management, Education, Employment, job search, Jobs Abroad, university


A Level Economics

Today is the day on which the 2009 A level results are announced. Yet again – surprise – a record-breaking number have been awarded A grades. More than one in four entries – 26.7% – got the top grade, up from 25.9% last year and the overall pass rate rose to 97.5%, up 0.3 percentage points. Congratulations to all!

Problem now, is about choice: employment, training or university? Economics will dictate the result

2009 Economics

The result of the recession is that it is presently estimated that the number of available places at Universities in the UK versus applicants will create a gap of between 50,000 and 60,000 without offers to study. This is in part brought on by the number of students seeing the grim employment statistics, but in greater part by career changing adults returning to study after being made redundant. In fact, so great is the effect career changers could bring to the university intake, it is estimated that the average age of the UK student could rise by up to five years in the next two intakes, taking it closer to 30.

Here is the problem for the A Level school leavers. Most of the career changers like yourselves had their university offers in January/February, based on their existing qualifications and experiences. As such, their places are assured at the University and course of their choice. This has raised the number of taken places un-subject to results to a record high, meaning the number of results driven places is relatively low. Add in that the Universities wanted the government to fund an extra 20,000 places, and the scramble this year will be intense.

University Place

If you have an offer, and have made the required grades, congratulations!

If you have done better than expected, then you might like to try moving courses or colleges, but think about the reality of the economic situation this year. It is actually quite easy and normal to change courses during or at the end of your first year. If you are happy with the college and are just now unsure about the course, think about changing courses in college, over changing colleges.

If you didn’t get the required A Level grades, then you need to do some quick thinking and take clear action.

If you still want to do the same course, then ask the college if that is possible? I suspect that in all honesty, it won’t be in a vast majority of case this year, if you are more than three points adrift overall, or two points adrift in the key or core subject.

Career choice

Before you decide that University is the only answer, stand back and think long term. Are these results telling you:

  • That in reality, what you thought were your key strengths are not
  • That you get exam nerves
  • That you needed to put more effort in?

There is probably learning in all three areas, but before making a choice think long term about your life and what would really make you happy? Have a vision of that life – friends and family first, work second – and then find someone who has that life (aged 40+), and find out how they got there.

You will find that many don’t have degrees, but more practically based life experience. Now, one thing that has changed since they got to where they wanted to be is the level of education in the general population. When they would have been at your age only 15% of people attended university: now its closer to 60%+ in the UK. But just because they don’t have a degree, doesn’t mean you need a degree right now to do what you want to do in your life.

Avoid employment

If you can’t get into university, and are reviewing your options, then personally – and yes, your parents will hate me for saying this: avoid employment for the next month. I know next week, or the weekend after the August Bank Holiday, I will have a series of “I’ve just failed my A Levels, and now desperately need a job” types in front of me in the recruitment office. Their need will be driven by desperation over “I want that job because…” focus: and that will mean they get rejected. Until you figure out what you want to do long term, don’t take the first step – you will just end up disappointed.

Always needed qualifications

Here’s a very personal thought. Use this knock back as a learning point, to ensure you never face such a situation again in your life. You have age on your side to take this knockback, so learn from it and don’t repeat it

One of the key career tactical choices I always encourage people to take, is to have an “always needed” qualification under their key career. This underlying qualification will allow them to know that, pretty much always, they will have a job for life.

What are such qualifications? Amusingly, most of them mean an easier and better life should you choose to go travelling, as they are ways of getting better paid work and more opportunities. There is only so much bar work out there in the world, or farm labourers required! Also, training for “always needed” qualifications are often found via your local jobs centre, making the cost to you virtually free. JobCentre+ pay for training, and give you an allowance while you train

Two choices to review are cooking, and HGV driving: people always need feeding, and goods always need to be shipped. A decent basic qualification in either could be obtained for less than £2000 in under 12weeks, and would provide you with either a better base income, or better options while deciding what to do next. The experience certainly sets you up for life, and gives you some real world employment experience over all that schooling – employers will love that.

Good Luck!

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