A few days ago, my sister-in-law and great friend Karen Harris posted a message on LinkedIn.
She wrote: “Feeling sad for my daughter. Straight A*s at GCSEs and school submitted A*A*A for A level grades. Exam board downgraded her to AAB so she has missed her uni places for computer science. Aren’t we meant to be encouraging women in tech? #womenintech #alevelresults”
A lot of youngsters are experiencing the fallout of the A-Level exam grades chaos right now. Even now the algorithm has been withdrawn and many have been awarded their predicted grades, some students may have missed out on a place at their top choice university. I feel a lot of sympathy and frustration on behalf of all those who feel they have been denied the education they have rightfully earned.
But I do also want to tell those people: all is not lost.
University isn’t the only way to a successful career, especially when you are studying a technical subject like computer science. You can go straight into industry and learn on the job instead. Arguably the skills you learn this way will be even more marketable and relevant to the modern world. If you still need the qualifications, your employer may even pay for you to do the degree part-time, or sponsor full-time study.
The Government’s recent Plan for Jobs pledge means that even more employers will be looking to create positions for smart young people. It will pay organisations £2,000 per apprentice and is introducing a bonus for businesses who hire apprentices aged 25 and over with a payment of £1,500.
The scheme will also subsidise six-month placements for young people on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, with the government covering 100pc of the national minimum wage for 25 hours a week.
At BigChange, we invest so much in our apprentices and young trainees that this support, while welcome, barely covers any of our costs. But we don’t create apprenticeships to access government funding. We do it because we need talented young people to help us innovate and grow. They bring energy, enthusiasm and a new perspective to the organisation.
We are hiring right now into our RoadCrew Customer Service, Onboarding and Technical teams. Young starters all begin their career in RoadCrew, so they can learn the business from the ground up, but for many that is just a launch pad to other areas of the business.
Over the years, we have seen both promising graduates and brilliant straight-out-of-schoolers rise through the ranks to management and even senior management. When I look at people like Ed Goodwill, who started in RoadCrew back in 2013 and became product manager two years ago, I see an incredibly driven individual who has become a seasoned member of the team. Or Jonathan Isaacs, who joined in a customer service onboarding role in 2016 and is now a product director, shaping our future product strategy. Also there is Kully, Simon & Serge in sales who have all benefited from working there way through the company from RoadCrew to Sales. RoadCrew have nurtured Danielle, Jake and Tom in accounts.
I have always been passionate about offering opportunities to young people, however inexperienced they might be. All I ask for is a good attitude and the willingness to learn and be a team player. Over the years, I have employed plenty of my children’s friends – even my youngest, Josh, now has a few friends working in BigChange. The great thing about raw talent is that you can develop them from the ground up, nurture their careers, and they live and breathe your values and culture.
Our BigChange University is here, and we always have places for talented students. Instead of paying to study computer science, marketing, software engineering, international business management, economics, data analytics, and many more, come to us. We’ll let you work virtually, pay you, and you’ll come out the other side with no student debt.
You can’t underestimate the power of education and a university degree but given the state of the world right now, it’s good to have options. I never went to university; I studied at the school of life. It worked out all right for me.