Why Lower Results Day Grades Should Not Put You Off

Now that both A-Level and GCSE results have been released to students (congratulations to you students reading this!), your hard work has paid off and it’s time to sit down and plan about your next steps. If you’re weighing up either the apprenticeship or university route, go check out our article on this, as we’re covering the apprenticeship route here.

It was widely expected that GCSE and A-Level grades would drop this year once we finally returned to having exams and that’s pretty much what’s happened. Statistics from Ofqual show that:

  • 73% of GCSE outcomes all achieved Grade 4/C or above (3.9% down from last year)
  • 82.1% of A-Level outcomes achieved Grace C or above (6.1% down from last year)

Let’s not make this out to be some sort of crisis within the education system, because as said above, a drop off was expected. Even with this drop off, it’s still possible to do well in your desired area.

Grades, Entry Criteria & Possibilities

When applying for apprenticeships, most, if not all, employers will have their own entry criteria which lays out the conditions you must meet to be eligible for the course.

It’ll often be a list of grades (particularly in Maths and English), soft skill requirements, and geographical limitations based around the level of the apprenticeship. The key thing to remember here is that entry criteria is like a recipe for a meal, sometimes it’s just a guideline. Yes, it’ll help funnel in a list of potential applicants for employers, but who’s to say that falling short on 1 or 2 grades will make it impossible to embark on the apprenticeship journey you want?

Well, it shouldn’t. The only hard requirements given by the Apprenticeships.gov.uk are:

  • Be 16 or over.
  • Not already be in full-time education.
  • Live in England.

So, if you’re looking at your report card and feel like you’ve underachieved, know that your grades are not a limitation. There’s always a pathway to where you want to go no matter what grades you’ve achieved, as Jeremy Clarkson reminds us with his annual results day tweet:

It never fails to ask the results day champion, eh?

But in all seriousness, Clarkson’s tweets should be taken in a positive light by all learners looking to progress into rewarding careers. Despite him being the celebrity equivalent of Marmite, he’s made plenty of money and a name for himself as a car journalist, a host of many TV shows, and even as an awkward farmer.

It’s hard evidence that just because you may not meet one or two grades required for an apprenticeship, that does not mean that it’s impossible to succeed in the area you want. All you need is soft skills, a passion for your subject area, a drive to learn and achieve, and to be clear in what success looks like for you.  

Looking at an Example

One learner whom we recently enrolled for an employer did not meet the A-Level requirements for their Data Technician apprenticeship, but delivered the most professional interview, showcasing their passion for learning and determination to succeed.

The soft skills shown in the interview was enough for them to overcome the A-Level requirement and enrol within the programme! To ensure the learner received sufficient training in relation to their peers, we provided additional learning materials equivalent to A-Levels to ensure they had the sufficient knowledge to achieve, getting them on course to achieve their apprenticeship.  

New ESFA Funding Rules = More Tailored Training

A more recent and positive change has been to the ESFA funding rules. Previously, learners were given Off-The-Job (OTJ) training at 20% of their working hours throughout the apprenticeship.

For this year, the OTJ training requirements are only a minimum of 6 hours a week. Training length is now more directly linked to a learner’s initial assessment, opening the door for more passionate learners such as above to thrive in their apprenticeships, despite not achieving the right grades during school. Our learner assessments gauges prior knowledge which generates a score that will create a reduction in training length and funding, meaning that all learning through their journey remains relevant to you.

Learners will also be able to achieve a Level 2 qualification in Functional Skills (English and Maths) if they haven’t already.

In Conclusion

Don’t be put off from putting yourself out there if you feel like you’ve underachieved this year in your exams.

The examples listed above and the changes to the ESFA Funding Rules prove that the access to apprenticeships is widening, and it should also be mentioned that employers are even starting to look at widening their own entry criteria to make apprenticeships more accessible.

The world’s now your oyster, no matter your grades. So go out there and get it.  

If you’re interested in starting your Tech career with an Apprenticeship – you can get in touch with our team here or view our live apprenticeship vacancies here.