Careers Advice

Expert advice from Sheffield Futures for A-Level results day

Sadie White No Comments

With A Level results day looming, Sheffield’s students are coming to the end of a nerve wracking summer wait for those all-important grades. Many students will be celebrating on Thursday 15th August, but what happens if you don’t get the grades you want or even if you do better than expected? To help navigate what can be a complicated process and to make sure students are prepared, local youth charity Sheffield Futures – responsible for delivering careers advice in many schools across Sheffield – is on hand to provide advice and guidance.

What to do if you don’t get the grades you need:

  1. Don’t panic. It’s important to stay calm so that you can act quickly. You are one of many young people who may not have the results they need to secure a place and if you’re panicking, you won’t be able to think clearly and act quickly to access the best courses left. It’s really useful to use UCAS before results day to check which courses still have places so that you’re fully prepared and have a plan B in your back pocket.
  2. Go on ‘UCAS Track’ to see if you have secured a place. If your ‘Track’ status hasn’t been updated, it means the university is still making a decision. Call them and ask if they will still take you. There may be a chance you will still be accepted if you have narrowly missed your grades. If your chosen institution (or your insurance offer, if you have one) won’t accept you then you will go into the UCAS clearing process.

However if ‘Track’ states that you’re in ‘Clearing’ then it means that you haven’t been offered a place, and you should keep calm – but act quickly.

  1. Check the UCAS website for all University places still available through clearing. The official list is published on and many universities also publish their places on their own websites. If you’ve already done some research and know where else you would like to go, then you will have a head start. You don’t have to stick to your original choice, of course.

If you like the look of a course then call them. The idea is to persuade them to make you an informal offer over the phone so do some research beforehand and treat the phone call like an informal interview. You will need your Clearing number and Personal ID.

  1. Again don’t panic and make sure you look at the clearing places and courses carefully. Consider what it might be like to live in that place. How far is it from home and is the course right for you? Try and visit if at all possible, especially if you haven’t already been to the university. Many of them hold open events in the days immediately following your results. It is important to attend these, as they will give you a real feel for the place and the course.
  2. If you’re happy with the course and university and if they’ve made you an informal offer then make an official application through UCAS Track. Only do this if you have spoken to the university or college and have their agreement.

If you’ve met your offer and changed your mind or done better than expected:

  1. There’s a brand new option this year on UCAS Track called ‘Self Release’ which will allow you to turn your place down and enter clearing.
  2. If you have not only met but exceeded your offer then there is still UCAS Adjustment, which allows you to apply for other courses without first having to give up your place.

‘It’s expected that there will be some good options in clearing this year. There are also signs that more young people are choosing to wait until they get their results before applying to university.’ Says Sarah Traynor, Careers Information Adviser at Sheffield Futures.

‘A really important thing to do is to prepare in advance, and decide on second and third choices so that you can act quickly if you find yourself in the university clearing process. If you’ve got the details of these institutions to hand, you’re not going to be wasting valuable time researching. How quickly you act may be the difference between securing a place you will thrive in, versus one where you may not.’ She continues.

Sheffield Futures provides the careers guidance and advice in schools across Sheffield.

A level results day this year is Thursday 15th August 2019.

Help from Sheffield Futures

Sheffield Futures careers advisers may be in school or college on results day. For careers advice at Star House on Division Street please call 0114 201 2800 for an appointment.

For any young people looking at alternatives to university, such as apprenticeships, Sheffield Futures are holding a ‘Get Sorted’ event on 5th September at Star House, between 12noon and 2.00pm.

Focus on Careers, Information, Advice & Guidance (CIAG): Inspiring students in Sheffield schools

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Over the last few months our careers advisers in schools across the city have been getting involved in exciting inspirational initiatives for young people. Here we focus on a new careers hub launched at Handsworth Grange school and an exciting visit at Forge Valley School from BBC Bitesize.

New careers hub at Handsworth Grange 

On the Seventh of March Handsworth Grange School launched a new careers hub. Sponsored by Henry Boot, the hub is a dedicated careers space where young people can come to use IT equipment and speak to Sheffield Futures Careers Adviser Amy Cooke about careers, pathways to qualification / employment, progression opportunities and advice on what to do next. “It is a place where students know they can come to start doing research and ask questions,” Amy said. ‘Before this they didn’t know where to go if they had questions so now they’ve got a space and they’ve got resources and it is a fantastic opportunity to raise aspirations.’

You can read more on this story in The Star from Friday the 8th March here.

BBC Bitesize at Forge Valley School 

Year Nine and Ten children at Forge Valley School had a visit from the team at BBC Bitesize Tour who came in to talk about all the different careers the BBC has in its creative and media department. Young people had the opportunity to learn about rigging up video and sound equipment as well as listening to specialists talk about their roles in media and broadcasting. One of the speakers was a specialist in prosthetics who had worked on all of the Harry Potter films, Dr Who and the Worst Witch. ‘It gave the pupils a feel for an industry that a lot of them may not have ever considered and let them into a world they may never have had access to for consideration. This is just invaluable.’ says Amy Cooke, Sheffield Futures Careers Adviser at the school.

Cycling to success – Josef’s story

Tash Bright No Comments

Josef attended college after school but didn’t particularly enjoy it and spent his time searching for employment. He needed a bit of support with his job search, so he contacted youth charity Sheffield Futures.

Brompton Fletcher, the bicycle manufacturer, contacted Sheffield Futures after they received a recommendation from Sheffield International Venues (SIV) for their free recruitment service. The business were looking for suitable candidates for a Support Operative roles, and Employer Engagement Officer, Alex Leonard, thought that Josef might be a good fit for the position.

Alex supported Josef to prepare to attend Brompton Fletcher’s Open Day, with four other young people, by breaking down the job description to show Josef how his skills matched those of the ideal candidate.

To make the position as accessible as possible, Brompton Fletcher did not ask for any qualifications, but instead said that they were looking for genuinely interested and motivated people.

Alex assisted Josef with interview preparation through mock interviews and took Josef to visit Suit Works, a partner charity that offers free tailoring and suits to clients with interviews.

At Sheffield Futures, Josef attended several coaching sessions to boost his confidence and ensure his attitude and morale remained on top form for his meeting with Brompton Fletcher.

At the Open Day, the team at Brompton Fletcher welcomed all candidates and gave them a presentation about the business, a tour of their building and a chance to ask questions before going back for interviews a week later. Josef was very professional and made sure to ask appropriate questions – plus he looked the part in his new suit!

Brompton Fletcher offered Josef a position and he is soon beginning a course of training that will give him a range of valuable skills including TIG welding, fabrication and metalwork.

Josef is very happy in his new position and received his first pay package in time for his 18th birthday and quickly understood the value of full time work!

Alex said: “Josef was a young man with bags of potential who was not in employment, education or training. We are so pleased that he has found a job with an organisation who want to help him unlock his potential!”

Richard Phillips, Project Manager at Brompton Fletcher said: “We are really pleased to have found Sheffield Futures and they have enabled a really smooth recruitment process to support our growing business. Josef has settled in well to Brompton Fletcher!”


Project Apollo launches to support care leavers to move in to education, work and training

Tash Bright No Comments

Project Apollo has launched to support young people leaving care to move into education, work and training. The project, commissioned by Sheffield City Council’s Leaving Care Service and delivered by youth charity Sheffield Futures, will help 100 young people towards a brighter future with careers guidance, help applying for opportunities, work experience, practical careers advice and barrier-busting long-term support.

Dedicated Transition Coaches will work closely with the Leaving Care Service to provide tailored support to each young person on the programme, guiding them in to education, employment and training and supporting them over the next three years.

Department for Education data reveals that nationally between 2014 and 2017 the amount of 19 to 21year-old care leavers classed as not in education, employment or training (NEET) rose by 6% to 10,250. The data shows that nationally care leavers are three times more likely to be NEET than their peers.

A Higher Education Policy Institute report in 2017 shows that only 6% of care leavers in England were in higher education and ‘at every key stage, the academic performance of children in care is worse than their peers.’

Gail Gibbons, Sheffield Futures Chief Executive Officer said: “We are delighted to be the lead delivery partner for Project Apollo – the new Department for Education Social Impact Bond project to support care leavers into education, employment and training. Many care leavers can struggle to progress successfully into education or employment. Our delivery model will provide care leavers with intensive specialist support – giving them every chance to succeed in the workplace.”

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families said: “We want to ensure that our Care Leavers get every help and support they can to access education, training or employment.  I’m pleased that Project Apollo will enable the Council’s Leaving Care Service to work with Sheffield Futures to give our care leavers every opportunity to achieve their full potential and progress successfully in the future.”

Project Apollo, delivered by Sheffield Futures, has been funded by the Department for Education Social Impact Bond, awarded to Sheffield City Council.

Building a business with Doing Good Business

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After five years of being unable to work due to ill health, Stuart Jones’ health had improved to the point where he wanted to start working again. Stuart still suffered physical limitations which meant that he would struggle to fit in with a 9-to-5 work pattern, but he had developed good woodworking skills and wondered whether it would be possible to turn that into a small business which would give him the flexibility that he needed.

Stuart was referred to Doing Good Business by his Job Centre. He was unsure what help he actually needed at the time but, along with his coach Paul Davies, he soon drew up a development plan. He had experimented at home by making a few pieces of furniture out of recycled pallets and knew that he would need to find proper premises to work out of. Knowing that he would need eventually to sign off of Employment Support Allowance, Stuart looked at the possibility of using the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) to manage that transition.

Paul and Stuart met regularly and worked on producing a business plan and cashflow forecast, developing his sales and marketing skills, and understanding the legal stuff around running a business. Stuart found that this was more straightforward than he had imagined and his plan soon took shape.

He attended a social media workshop organised by Doing Good Business and got his application in for NEA. Paul also found premises that would be suitable for the business and, before he knew it, Stuart’s new venture was established in a business unit in Clay Cross.

He is now making and selling items of furniture, as well as small gift items on his website. He has also taken on some contract work fitting out a shop for a friend of a friend.

The process of meeting regularly, setting goals and reviewing progress and dealing with specific training needs enabled Stuart to keep focussed on what he wanted to achieve, and helped to build his confidence.

Stuart said: “Thank you for all the support [Doing Good Business] have given me over these last few months in helping me sort out a business plan. Paul has gone out of his way to come and see me at home as I had no transport at the time. Also the help he gave me in securing premises for my furniture making business was invaluable. The social media course was so informative and very professional – they are a great team.”

“I honestly do not know what I would have done if I hadn’t contacted the Doing Good Business programme. A massive thank you for your past and ongoing support.”

You can find Stuart’s business at or via his Facebook page.

If you are aged 25+, not currently working and living in one of the above districts, the Doing Good Business programme can help you.
Doing Good Business is funded by Big Lottery and the European Social Fund it provides free one-to-one advice, practical support to manage your personal circumstances, help to develop your skills, personal strengths and expert advice and guidance on key topics.

Ecclesfield School awarded Quality in Careers Standard Gold Award!

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We are pleased to announce that Ecclesfield School has been awarded the Sheffield Futures Quality in Careers Standards (QICS) Gold Award. This award recognises the quality careers advice and provision available to students and is a recognition of good practice.

Expert advice from Sheffield Futures for GCSE results day

Sadie White No Comments

With GCSE results day just around the corner, Sheffield’s students are coming to the end of a nerve wracking summer wait for those all-important grades. Many students will be celebrating on Thursday 23rd August, but what happens if you don’t get the grades you want or do even better than expected? To help navigate what can be a complicated process and to make sure students are prepared, local youth charity Sheffield Futures – responsible for delivering careers advice in schools across Sheffield – is on hand to provide advice and guidance.

What to consider on results day

  • Stay calm so you can think clearly
  • Get on the phone to the sixth form or college you have applied to. By speaking to your chosen provider you can let them know about your specific situation. They may be able to offer you another course.
  • A change of course? Look at other courses where the entry requirements fit with your grades. There may be staff available in college before term starts in September who can provide you with the information you need. Some of the bigger institutions like Sheffield College may hold a ‘clearing’ event where you can call in and find about courses that are still available. Check their websites for more information.
  • What about an apprenticeship? You would have a paid job and also study alongside this. There are different types of apprenticeship, they normally require GCSEs at D / 3 and above. You may still need some good grades at GCSE but some use their own tests instead. You can find out more by talking to Sheffield Futures.
  • Traineeships and study programmes. These can give you work experience along with help job hunting and work preparation, plus support with English and Maths. They don’t pay a wage but can be a good way of gaining the skills and experience that employers want.
  • Getting help with job hunting. If you decide getting a job is the way forward for you then you can also contact us here at Star House. Our team can help you with CVs, job hunting and interview preparation.


Nigel Ball, All Age Guidance Manager at Sheffield Futures comments. ‘If you don’t get the GCSE results you wanted then don’t panic, stay calm so that you can think clearly.’

‘It’s a good time to take stock and think about your options. If you want to do A levels and you can’t get on a relevant course in Sheffield, our careers advisors in school can help you to consider your options. There are lots of options available from paid apprenticeships to traineeships and study programmes or full time paid work.’

‘Our careers advisors are on hand to help all young people in Sheffield continue to achieve their aspirations whether that’s through education or work.’

On results day Sheffield Futures’ advisors will be on hand provide one to one support for students at the following schools. These schools have supported Sheffield Futures to provide careers advice and guidance.

  • All Saints Catholic
  • Birley Community College
  • Bradfield School
  • Forge Valley
  • Handsworth Grange
  • High Storrs
  • Hinde House
  • King Ecgbert School
  • Newfield School
  • Sheffield Springs Academy
  • Silverdale School
  • Stocksbridge High School
  • Yewlands Academy
  • Westfield

Outside of school careers advice sessions students can call Star House on 0114 2012800.

GCSE results day for Sheffield schools this year is Thursday 23rd August 2017.



What it takes to succeed in digital marketing – by Evoluted

Tash Bright No Comments

Blog from our friends at Evoluted.

If you’re coming to the end of your studies and you’re starting to think about your career path, digital marketing could be a fantastic option.

Naturally, you’ll need to have skills relevant to the industry to work within it, but you might already possess these without having considered applying them in the digital sphere.

The digital marketing team at Sheffield-based digital agency Evoluted – who specialise in SEO, PPC and more – have put together the following video to help offer some more insight:

As the Evoluted team alludes to in the video, lots of the skills you need to excel in digital marketing are relevant across multiple industry disciplines:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Understanding how and why data should be used to influence decisions
  • Willingness to learn and apply new software skills
  • An ability to deliver results independently and as part of a team
  • Adaptability and being able to apply yourself across multiple business areas

In addition, passion and a natural flair for the job you want to do can also be priceless.

What Can You Do to Give Yourself a Head Start?

People come into digital marketing from a variety of backgrounds. Examples include:

  • A university degree such as Marketing, Business, Journalism or English
  • A college apprenticeship
  • Time spent running their own e-commerce business

Whilst qualifications are undeniably important, they are not the only thing employers look at when considering applicants. If you’ve run your own business on the side for example, or you’ve undertaken a relevant and fulfilling placement, these factors could prove equally vital to you being hired.

Essentially, anything you can do to improve your knowledge and understanding will do your chances the world of good.

Push hard for placement opportunities to set yourself apart from other applicants when it comes to the time to apply. Or, if you have a solid business or blog project idea, set up your own website and try to achieve strong results.

Some Reasons Why Digital Marketing Makes A Great Career Choice

With a career in the digital marketing industry, you’ll never need to feel boxed into one role. You can gravitate towards an area that suits you the best.

A natural flair for writing might lead you into a content-centric role for example. Or, an outstanding understanding of data could lead you into a PPC role. Alternatively, great communication skills could see you fulfil an outreach position. The options are vast.

No matter the role you decide to apply for, you’ll be entering what is a challenging, fulfilling and ever-evolving industry.

How to be employable (even if you haven’t got a job!)

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Our top five tips for Employability Day – 29th June!

1. Get a foot in the door

If there’s one thing every employer likes to see, it’s previous work experience. Many local companies are small businesses that look for workers who can fit in and get up to speed quickly. If you’ve already spent time in a workplace (and better still, have references from the employer) it will reassure them that you understand the basics, like the importance of turning up on time and working as a team.

If you’re still at college or uni then some part time work (provided it doesn’t get in the way of your studies) won’t just help the money go a bit further, it could really boost your job prospects.

Very few of us land our dream job straight away. Most of us have to play the long game and pick up skills and experience as we move towards our goal. Remember – it’s far easier to find a job if you’re already in work.

If you’re struggling to find a job because you don’t have experience then look at other ways into the market such traineeships, internships or volunteering.

2. Put a CV together

Your CV is your calling card. It’s a summary of what you can offer an employer in terms of skills, qualifications and experiences. Many companies use them instead of application forms. Once you have a CV, you can also send a copy to any organisation without even waiting for them to advertise a job. This is called a ‘speculative application’.

It’s really important to keep your CV up to date and to tweak it every time you make an application so that it matches the requirements of the job.

3. Be savvy with social media

There’s a good chance that a company will check out your social media profiles when you apply to them. Think about what kind of impression you want to give an employer and make sure anything on your profile that you wouldn’t want your boss to see is out of public view.

Once you’ve started moving up the career ladder, think about joining LinkedIn, an online professional network. Some of the biggest companies use LinkedIn profiles rather than CVs.

4. Work on your skills

There are certain skills – sometimes known as ‘core skills’ – that are required for almost any career. These include dealing with people, using clear English, handling numbers, talking to people on the phone, organising your own workload, solving problems, understanding IT (not just games). Can you think of any jobs where you wouldn’t need some if not most of these skills? Neither can we, so make sure they’re highlighted on your CV.

5. Learn from setbacks
It doesn’t matter how good or how well qualified you are, there will be times in your working life when things go wrong. What sets apart the most successful people is how they respond to failure. England manager, Gareth Southgate was dismissed by Middlesborough when they were fourth in the Championship and only one point off the top. Instead of complaining or hiding away, he rolled up his sleeves and started again.

If you mess up in an interview or at work, ask for feedback. Find out what went wrong and learn from it so that you do better next time.

If you would like some support with job search or preparing a CV, our careers advisers work in many schools and colleges across the city. We also run services at Star House for young people who have left school and for adults. To find out how we can help, give us a call on 0114 201 2800.

Inspirational women tell us their stories this National Careers Week

Sadie White No Comments

Last night’s Door43 Café at Star House saw a National Careers Week take over with two of our inspirational female ambassadors Sophie Maxwell of The Really NEET Project and Liz Byrnes, sports reporter telling young people their life stories and careers journeys, along with their top tips for navigating the journey.

‘You can never aim too high.’ says Sophie Maxwell to a group of young people sat intently listening to her. Sophie is a very engaging and inspiring individual and the founder of The Really NEET Project, a social enterprise with the purpose of opening up opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and helping them to realise their dreams.

“I’m passionate about driving positive change. So many young people get caught up in the chaotic nature of life and stray off track from reaching their potential. I believe with the right mentor and support anything is possible, the world is limitless!” says Sophie.

Sophie founded Really NEET with less than 20 pounds in her back pocket and has built a team of 11 passionate and dedicated staff members that go above and beyond in helping some of society’s most disadvantaged young people to believe and achieve in their education.

Sophie had many challenges along the way. ‘I have not just had to learn about running a business but also how to successfully hit difficult educational targets. Running the Really NEET Project is also quite an emotional role, you are working with young people who have been through extremely difficult circumstances, some have been abused, some have been to prison, many are homeless, some have come through the care system and many of them are suffering from mental health issues and/or learning difficulties. Every day brings a new challenge, whether it is finding funding, managing staff and ensuring their welfare, finding young people emergency accommodation, taking young people to engage with mental health services, designing the curriculum, delivering training, writing Tenders, developing strategies, liaising with stakeholders and many other elements to the role what I can say is that I have learnt so much in such a short amount of time.’ She says.

Liz Byrnes is one of around 12 female sports reporters in the UK which is not only testament to the under representation of women in this field but also paints a picture of how difficult it might seem to break into this profession to a young woman considering sports journalism as a career. Liz has carved out a successful career for herself on the national and international stage and feels it important to pass on her experiences as a female sports reporter and thriving in a world which is overwhelmingly male. Liz is also keen to point out the importance of information, advice and support gained from a mentor she had from a former Star/Telegraph editor and how without this support she may never have ended up where she is.

‘Many people are surprised when I tell them what I do and often ask about sexism within football in particular but I would like to pass on the importance of backing yourself, self-belief and persistence. The rewards I have had are enormous – I have met some great people and travelled all over the world – and I want young people to know that these roles and possibilities are out there, that we are not just faceless people from a certain walk of life, that these jobs are for them. I am passionate that everyone should have access and chances and I would like provide the sort of support and help that I had. I also want to convey that you can follow your heart and passion and that there is not just one firm way to live your life that is set in stone.’ Says Liz.

‘I struggled for quite a long time finding out what I wanted to do in life and how to go about it. I lost all confidence and felt that I would not fit in anywhere or be able to succeed. This was despite being well-qualified. I eventually chose to re-train as a journalist and I was encouraged and helped by one person in particular, a former Star/Telegraph editor in Sheffield.’

‘I fully appreciate the importance of being given practical help and advice as well as friendly support. I work across a number of sports including football where I am very often the only woman in the press room. When I first started out I felt that I had to prove myself although as I have become established and gained more experience, this has dissipated. However, I can understand that it could be overwhelming.’ Liz continues.

Our information, advice and guidance team are here at Star House Monday to Friday for young people to drop in and gain careers advice and support every day 9-5 Monday to Thursday and 10-4 on Friday. You can find  more information here.






How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.