WHILE many Fermanagh students are still taking the more “traditional” route of university following their ‘A’ levels, they are becoming more savvy in course choices and in “future proofing” their careers.
Following the release of ‘A’ level results last week, Mark Henry, principal of St Michael’s College, said the overwhelming majority of their students who received their results last week were now heading off to university, and most were enrolling in the core “STEM” subjects of science, technology and engineering.
“That really seems to be the direction of travel a lot of them are going in,” said Mr Henry, adding he believed an increased focus by schools on careers guidance, and the students’ own ability to research courses and colleges online, and to plan ahead.
“When you take the availability of information, the emphasis schools put on, and the fact that children themselves are that bit more savvy, we would find we have more youngsters who are fairly clear about the direction they want to travel.
“Maybe ten years ago a lot of them would’ve gone to non-vocational degrees and then going into a masters, but that’s maybe not an advisable route now. It’s harder to gain employment with those non-vocational degrees and with the cost of university life, I think that has sharpened their focus as well.”
Principal of Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, Elizabeth Armstrong, said the majority of their A level students had been accepted into university places across Ireland and the UK, and again there had been a strong focus on STEM subjects, while one had been accepted onto an apprenticeship with Dyson, which will allow her to study at Warwick University while working, while others had been interested in similar apprenticeship schemes at large companies such as Price Waterhouse Cooper.
However, Ms Armstrong explained that it was more important for those students going to university do a subject or course they enjoyed and get a good degree.
“For the growth areas such as business, finance, even law, a lot of big employers look for a good university degree. So the quality of your degree is actually, in many situations, is actually more important than the subject,” she said.
“There’s a balance to be had in that if young people are passionate about a subject, it’s about the skills you accrue through that subject as opposed to the content knowledge.”