Expert career and further learning guidance is on hand for the thousands of young people awaiting their SQA results next week

Thousands of young Scots eager to work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sectors will reach another milestone in their chosen career paths
next week.

Around 138,000 young people from across the country will receive their National, Higher and Advanced Higher results on Tuesday, 4 August.

In a year like no other, young people receiving their results may need more help than normal to gain advice on next steps and understand their choices for further learning or work. Skills Development Scotland’s (SDS) Results Helpline will open at 8am on results day.

From Scotland’s career service, the free* helpline offers information, advice and support for young people and their parents and carers.

James Russell, SDS Director of Career Information, Advice & Guidance Operations, said: “This is an unprecedented year with the cancellation of exams and young people receiving results and their families may be feeling more anxious, which is understandable. This is the point when their work and efforts are recognised. Our advice and support is available and our message is: if your results aren’t what you expected, don’t worry, you have lots of options.

 “Our careers advisers are here to help you and your parents and carers with information on all the options and opportunities on offer.”

SDS’s expert advisers can discuss options and next steps such as course vacancies at UK colleges and universities, Confirmation and Clearing, Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships or volunteering.

There will also be advisers available through the My World of Work Facebook page to answer queries if people find it easier to get in touch via direct messaging.

SDS careers adviser Danny Ramage has worked for SDS for five years and volunteers for the Results Helpline every year. Danny works with pupils at Stonelaw High School in Rutherglen and is based in SDS’s centre in Cambuslang Main Street.

Danny said: “Young people receiving their results have had a very different experience this year. The Helpline and their school careers advisers are there to help them, and their parents and carers who make around a third of the calls to the Helpline, to find out about all of the options and opportunities available to them.”

Careers in STEM-related industries will continue to offer a broad range of options for those considering their future.

Areas of the sector have played a vital role throughout the pandemic, with telecoms coming to the fore to support connectivity during lockdown and life-sciences firms at the forefront of clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines.

For pupils going into 5th and 6th year this August, there’s also still time to choose a Foundation Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 6 in a STEM subject alongside their National and Higher choices.

There are Foundation Apprenticeships available in Engineering, Civil Engineering, Scientific Technologies, IT Hardware and Systems Support, Creative and Digital Media, Food and Drink Technologies, Accountancy and IT Software.

Completing a Foundation Apprenticeship leads to a qualification at the same level of learning as a Higher and assessment happens throughout the year.

Scottish Government Education Secretary, John Swinney said: “Young people and their families have shown tremendous resilience in coping with the many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and will naturally be anxious about the potential impact on results.

“You may achieve the results you worked so hard for, but if you miss out on the grades you were hoping for, there is still a huge variety of options available to you. Skills Development Scotland advisers will provide expert advice to help all pupils understand their future education and career choices.”

The Results Helpline number is 0808 100 8000 and will be open on August 4 and 5 from 8am to 8pm, August 6 and 7 from 9am-5pm and August 10 to 12 from 9am-5pm.

To get in touch with the SDS Results Helpline via social media go to My World of Work on Facebook at

Results information and advice is also available on Scotland’s careers website, My World of Work at which has practical help and links to UCAS, SAAS, Young Scot and the SQA.  

To find out what Foundation Apprenticeships are available in your school go to or speak to your SDS careers adviser.

The SDS Helpline is open from 8am on Tuesday, 4 August. Contact 0808 100 8000.

*operator charges may apply


Apprenticeship puts Kirsty on road to success


BEST OF BOTH WORLDS:  Kirsty is gaining a degree through the University of the West of Scotland in her Graduate Apprenticeship role with Ayrshire Roads Alliance.

Through a Graduate Apprenticeship, Kirsty Smith has turned her passion for STEM into an exciting career with great prospects for the future.

The 23-year-old joined employer Ayrshire Roads Alliance (ARA) five years ago, where she has been working in the Design and Environment team.

With a lifelong interest in STEM subjects, Kirsty jumped at the opportunity to upskill and get degree qualified with a Graduate Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering.

Developed by Skills Development Scotland in partnership with employers, Graduate Apprenticeships combine academic learning with real-time practical experience in the workplace, allowing apprentices to gain the industry-relevant skills and qualifications employers need.

Kirsty is now a Graduate Apprentice at ARA, working as a Technical Officer and Engineer and gaining her civil engineering degree through the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).

Kirsty said: “I would recommend Graduate Apprenticeships to anyone; the mix of worked-based and classroom learning is perfect. The subjects you cover at university are applied straight away in the workplace while still fresh in your mind. Whilst completing a Graduate Apprenticeship you are a full-time employee which means you are also earning a full-time salary.”

Having previously completed an HND qualification, Kirsty was able to start her apprenticeship in the second year of the BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering course at UWS.

Kirsty added: “Civil Engineering has many different aspects which makes it a very interesting industry to work in as every project you work on is different. Civil Engineering is often seen as a ‘man’s job’ but more and more females are coming into the industry each year.”

The Ayrshire-based engineer is already seeing the career benefits of choosing a Graduate Apprenticeship, commenting: “Being on the apprenticeship has already helped my career progression as I was recently promoted from a technician to an engineer after only doing the degree for five months. The course links directly to my day-to-day work and the knowledge I am gaining at university is allowing me to take on more complex and challenging projects at work.”

Alan Ierland, Design & Environment Team Manager at Ayrshire Roads Alliance, said: “Kirsty has developed into a very capable young engineer, able to apply her academic learning in the workplace, and is now a key member of the ARA Design Section with involvement in all aspects of the management of the Council’s bridge stock.

“East Ayrshire Council, like many others, has recognised that there is a need to retain staff with relevant qualifications and expertise and also plan for succession planning.

“‘Growing our own talent in-house’ aided by the Graduate Apprenticeship programme is one such way we can endeavour to make sure that qualified staff are available to take the Ayrshire Roads Alliance forward in the future.”

Graduate Apprenticeships have been developed by Skills Development Scotland, in partnership with industry and the further and higher education sectors with support from the European Social Fund. 

They are offered in key sectors that need highly skilled employees.

To find out more about Graduate Apprenticeships and current vacancies, visit


  • This article was brought to you in association with Skills Development Scotland as part of The Herald's STEM campaign