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

Penny Horwood
clock • 6 min read
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Haxel McGarth, BAE Systems

It's OK to change your mind - follow your gut

Last summer Hazel McGarth was an A-Level student planning for a degree in Psychology. However, realising she preferred a more hands-on approach; she instead applied to be a Project Management Apprentice at BAE Systems Naval Ships. It is a decision she has not regretted. 

"I really never thought I'd be doing this, it's built my confidence so much. I've been shadowing managers and controllers who are organising scheduling. They don't throw you in the deep end, but they do challenge you." 

Working in Project Controls - essentially problem solving as the Company works to maintain budgets, dates and milestones - Hazel has already seen the proud moment of the first Type 26, HMS Glasgow, being floated off at Govan. 

While many of her school friends have been beginning courses and sitting in classrooms, Hazel is engaged in helping deliver crucial defence assets to the UK Royal Navy. 

"I just realised university was not for me. There seems to be a lot more purpose to what I'm doing. I know a lot of my friends who went to college are now wishing they had taken on an apprenticeship instead. For me it's a good mixture of being hands-on as well as studying for my diploma. I'm so glad I made this decision."    

The final word  

This A Level Results Day today, many school leavers will find themselves at a crossroads, with more pathways than ever to a STEM career. Each pathway presents unique advantages which offers a breadth of choice and opportunities for school leavers.  

These diverse pathways will equip STEM employers with a workforce with enhanced adaptability, better problem-solving ability, and greater creativity - exactly what the sector continually tells us it needs.  

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Penny Horwood
Author spotlight

Penny Horwood

Associate Editor focusing on diversity in tech and sustainability content.

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