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Pupils urged to look at alternatives to academic route after GCSEs

Pupils who received their GCSE results yesterday are being urged to look at alternatives to the traditional academic route of A-levels and university.

With pupils in England now having to stay in some sort of education or training until they are 17, they are being encouraged to consider work-based options that might improve their chances of securing a job.

These include traineeships, a new government programme available since the beginning of August. The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) said traineeships were a “much needed” reform that combined basic academic study in English and maths, alongside vocational training and a work placement.

Although new, traineeships are expected to grow in number quickly and be available across many different sectors.

AELP chief executive Stewart Segal said: “Youth unemployment has remained stubbornly high despite the more encouraging signals about the economy recently.  At the same time, winning a place on an apprenticeship is now highly valued, so young people with good exam results are at a distinct advantage. 

“This means that the introduction of traineeships is a vital new option for school leavers, especially for those who may be feeling down about their job prospects after receiving their results.”

Or how about becoming an entrepreneur? The Gazelle colleges group, which has 20 institutions across the UK, aims to transform further education by bringing entrepreneurship into the classroom.

Its chief executive, Fintan Donohue, told TES that colleges should create more experiences and opportunities for their students.

“What Gazelle is seeking to promote is the notion of doing more with students, so we engage with them much more in terms of collaboration, competition and work so they can develop a strong entrepreneurial set of employment skills alongside other skills.”

Another group promoting entrepreneurship is the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, set up by the Dragons Den star.

Since 2009 the Academy has offered several different courses at a number of institutions.

Chief executive Alice Barnard said students are judged on their “raw potential” and not their academic ability. “GCSE results are important but they are not the be all and end all in life,” she said.

“Young people have the ability to pick themselves up and dust themselves off. If they have the attitude and the dynamism but are not sure how to unleash that, we can help.”

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