Holyrood minister urges students to consider college as first-choice destination

·2 min read

A Holyrood minister is urging tens of thousands of school leavers to consider college as a first-choice destination.

Further education minister Jamie Hepburn made the call as pupils across Scotland receive the results of their SQA exams on Tuesday.

This year marked the return of exams for the first time since 2019 after disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Hepburn said: “Scotland’s colleges offer incredible opportunities for young people looking to acquire the new skills needed for today’s workforce.

“Other students might be looking to improve their results and then move on to a higher level of study in college or onto university. Colleges across the country also offer outstanding training for increasing numbers of apprentices.

“With exam results out today, Scotland’s colleges provide world-class learning for everyone and I hope every school leaver considers them as a first-choice destination.”

Colleges Scotland chief executive Shona Struthers said a college education can “deliver answers” for all young people within their local communities.

“The skills provided ensure college graduates have the fit-for-purpose competencies employers demand,” she said.

“Alternatively, almost 12,000 apprentices are learning while earning every year, and thousands of other people are taking advantage of part-time or evening classes to improve their skills while working full-time.

“An incredible 96% of the learning provided leads to recognised qualifications, which in turn means improved employment and earnings opportunities.

“So, with employers crying out for skilled workers, colleges are increasingly relevant destinations for school leavers, and I encourage all of them to look at what life-changing courses are on offer.”

Meanwhile, child protection charity NSPCC has reminded pupils of the support on offer should they feel apprehensive or concerned about their results.

Counsellors from the charity’s Childline service previously heard how students were feeling “anxious and stressed” when it came to revision and sitting the exams.

Some also reported feeling underprepared after having studied at home for lengthy periods of time in the last few years.

Paul Johnson, NSPCC Childline team manager for Scotland, said: “Now, as they find out their results from the exams, it is vital that they feel supported and listened to.”

He added: “Some young people think their whole future depends on these results and this is their last chance to get into the further education course of their choice, or an apprenticeship that they have applied for.

“In such circumstances, it’s possible the young person could appeal their results or resit their exams the following year. They could also look at alternative courses or universities through clearing, and there’s the option of taking a gap year.

“Speaking to a teacher could be very helpful in assisting a young person to decide on which is the best option to take.

“If any young person is feeling apprehensive and worried about their results, I’d urge them to talk to someone about it.”