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From apprenticeships to university, how to make the most of your GCSE and A-level results

COVID-19 may have stopped your exams but there’s no escaping GCSE and A-level results day.

With less than a week to go for teacher-assessed A-level results and two weeks for GCSEs, Sun-employment is here to help the Corona Class of 2020 make the most of the opportunities on offer.

We’ve teamed up with the National Careers Service (NCS) to review your options if you got the results you need, and next week we’ll be covering what to do if your results aren’t what you hoped for.

And we highlight the top firms hiring this year.

Gillian Keegan, minister for apprenticeships and skills, says: “Be open to the wide range of exciting opportunities around you.”

Careers advice expert Sophie Graham works for the NCS. She says:


A-levels: Typically you take three or four academic subjects and normally need five GCSEs at grades 9-4 (including Maths and English) to pursue them.

Technical or vocational qualifications: BTECs offer 2,000 different qualifications across 16 sectors while the new T-Level courses are equivalent to three A-Levels, combining classroom learning with an industry placement so you get hands-on work experience.

Apprenticeships: Combine work and study and get paid a wage too. Courses last between a year to four years and there are apprenticeships for more than 1,500 job roles. See


University: If you haven’t secured your place yet or want to apply for a different course, head to the UCAS clearing system at

Higher or degree apprenticeships: Many courses study to degree level and your learning is funded too.

Internship: Go straight into work or you can combine work with study through an internship or school leavers scheme.



TONICHA ROBERTS, 23, who competed in the “Skills Olympics” – the Chemical Laboratory Technician contest at WorldSkills Kazan 2019 – recently completed her higher apprenticeship in laboratory science and is now a forensic reporting scientist at Eurofins Forensic Services in London.

Here she reveals how to find the right apprenticeship.

  1. Research. From a child, I wanted to be a forensic scientist, but I couldn’t get a uni place. Researching options, I found the apprenticeship. So look for ways into your career.
  2. Select right level. Apprenticeship levels range from Intermediate (Level 2) to Degree (Levels 5 – 7). Your qualifications will determine where you start but you can work your way up.
  3. Choose an employer. You spend at least half your time on the course at work, so identify questions to ask at interview to see if the employer is right for you.
  4. Leave comfort zone. When I was offered the apprenticeship with Eurofins, I moved from Chorley in Lancs, to London. I knew no one and had no savings but it was what I had been searching for.
  5. Stand out. Get set for your apprenticeship, by starting to network with your professional community. Enter competitions like WorldSkills UK to prove your dedication.



TOP ad agency M&C Saatchi is helping school leavers break into advertising.

It has launched a free virtual course, which runs for eight weeks and aims to make the ­sector more diverse.

The course includes weekly seminars from experts on topics such as “How to interpret and write a creative brief”.

Zoe Miller, Saatchi talent manager, said: “With lockdown showing us the power of remote working, we are opening our doors to people all over the UK in the hope that we will attract a broader and more diverse range of talent to our business.”

See or search #opentowork.


MARKETING agency FSE Digital is seeking school leavers to train as junior web developer and digital marketing assistants.

Email [email protected]


SINK your teeth into a role with food giant Mondelez.

The firm, which makes Cadbury chocolate, is taking on 50 apprentices and interns and has graduate vacancies too.

Roles include finance, sales, HR, customer service and logistics, marketing, manufacturing, IT, research & development, and food and data scientists.

Sally Waine joined the business as a product innovations intern last year, making chocolate, biscuits and snacks.

She said: “I have gained so much knowledge and skills during my time at Mondelez, it has given me the confidence I need to start my career.”

Apply at

Huge boost for apprenticeships as Chancellor gives £2000 per role for on-job training

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