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Where does your future lie?

NOW that the A-level and GCSE results have been revealed, students are left with some tough choices about their future.

And this supplement outlines some of the options open - either going into further or higher education or taking a more direct route into employment.

But here are a few pointers to bear in mind.

Having the right skills is more important than ever before: in less than ten years there will be very few jobs that require no skills at all. As well as boosting your career prospects, new skills could be the first step towards that qualification you've always wanted to get.

Skills are also useful in all sorts of situations in life, and can boost your confidence.

If you are not sure where to begin, there's lots of free, impartial advice from services like Next Step.

A Next Step adviser will be able to tell you about your options, and about any money you could get to help pay for your learning. You can meet a trained adviser face to face or talk over the phone. If you want to improve your reading, writing or maths, there's plenty of help available. There are also lots of ways to improve your computer skills. Everyone has the ability to learn new things, whatever your age or circumstances If you decide to improve your skills by doing a course, there are almost a million to choose from in the UK. So, you're bound to find one that interests you and fits around your home and work commitments. You can choose where and when you learn - you don't have to sit in a classroom. For example, you may be able to get training at work. You can learn full or part-time, for a few hours or for several years: whatever suits you best.

If you decide that you want to improve your skills but are concerned about how much it will cost, check out what financial help is available. Exactly what help you can get will depend on your personal circumstances. You could get financial help through a number of different programmes - like the Adult Learning Grant or Professional and Career Development Loans. You may also get help with childcare costs.

Getting a higher education qualification can open up new career options, as well as letting you experience new things and meet new people.

And it doesn't have to be about getting a degree. There are lots of different courses, like Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) - or foundation degrees that mix study with workplace learning. You can learn at university or at your local college, studying full or part-time.

There's a range of grants, loans and bursaries to help you meet the costs. If you get help through a grant or bursary, you don't have to pay it back.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 1, 2010
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