A-Level results day: navigating pathways for the next generation of STEM leaders

Penny Horwood
clock • 6 min read
A-Level results day: navigating pathways for the next generation of STEM leaders

For many young adults, today represents a door opening - whether that be heading for their first professional job, or progressing to higher education.  

Whilst a degree in a STEM subject was traditionally seen as the one and only route to a successful tech career,  for today's A-Level students successfully making your mark in the industry is not defined by a singular, standardised route.  

STEM industries are defined by innovation and disruption and these require diverse talent. There are many pathways for that diverse talent into a fulfilling career in these industries. The days of university acting as the sole gateway are long gone.  

This A Level Results Day, we ask individuals working in tech roles to reflect on their experiences and offer some advice for this year's school leavers. 

Everything happens for a reason - your backup choice may be your best choice 

Amy Croasdale is an Engineering Degree Apprentice at BAE Systems, and, like many, didn't get the results she was expecting on A Level Results Day. She took the set back as an opportunity to reconsider her options ultimately finding her way onto one of BAE System's apprenticeship schemes, and hasn't looked back since. 

"I originally applied to go to university and when I didn't get into my top choices, I actually took a gap year after college. That's when I applied for the apprenticeship at BAE Systems. 

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Amy Croasdale, BAE Systems

 "So many of my friends that went to uni really struggled to get a job afterwards - and had loads of debt, too. I actually got to study for a degree alongside my apprenticeship, all while getting five years of paid, hands-on work experience. I'm also essentially guaranteed a full-time role after I complete my apprenticeship, which is reassuring. It made so much more sense to me than university ever did - I felt like I got a jump-start on my career. 

 "There's also been benefits I didn't anticipate. I've picked up plenty of life skills that prepare you for the real world. My interpersonal and communications skills have really benefited from working with colleagues from different ages, backgrounds, countries, and departments in a professional setting.

"On a day-to-day basis, I develop designs for aircrafts through computer software - basically creating drawings and designs digitally, to eventually be manufactured into physical parts. These include drawings of entire aircrafts, as well as individual pieces like the wings, fins, sensors and engines - everything you can imagine that goes into a fighter jet! 

"I've worked across many different departments which have given me a flavour of the industry on a range of fighter jets, including Tornado, Typhoon and F-35. For each aircraft I was focussing on different elements of engineering and honing my skills along the way. I'm now in my dream department, working on the design of the UK's next generation combat air fighter jet, where I want to develop my career for the foreseeable." 

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Penny Horwood
Author spotlight

Penny Horwood

Associate Editor focusing on diversity in tech and sustainability content.

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