Careers Advice

Sheffield Futures supports Career Guidance Guarantee

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Sheffield Futures has joined hundreds of organisations in providing backing for a Careers Guidance Guarantee for young people and unemployed adults.

The Career Development Policy Group have joined up with the Fair Education Alliance to write an open letter to the Secretary of State  calling for the Department for Education to introduce a Career Guidance Guarantee for young people and unemployed adults.

This letter calls for every young person and unemployed adult to have access to career guidance to support them to make informed decisions. It is important that individuals are able to find the destinations that are right for them so that they can make the most of the available opportunities post COVID-19.

You can view the open letter and check for updates here.

GCSE and A level results: What happens if you don’t get the grades you’re expecting?

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Schools and examination boards are working together to make sure GCSE and A levels are still graded but what happens if you don’t get the grades you were expecting? Or if you’re taking other qualifications?

Sarah from our Careers Education, Information and Guidance team has put together a Q&A to answer some of the questions you may have.

Will I be able to retake my exams GCSE or A level exams?

Yes, there will be the opportunity to re-sit subjects either this autumn or in summer 2021. The plans for autumn re–sits and the subjects available are still being drawn up but they’re due soon.

What if I retake and get an even lower grade?

You will be able to use whichever grade is higher as your official grade.

If I retake in the autumn will I get a new grade in time to start university?

This is still being sorted out but at the moment the view is that A Level retake results should be out by Christmas, GCSE english and maths in January 2021 and other GCSEs in February.

Universities (and also colleges and sixth forms) will try to be flexible but, if you’re thinking about autumn resits, you should consult with the university / institution concerned.

I’m home schooled. How will grades and retakes work for me?

If the school / college / centre where you had registered to take your exams has seen enough of your work to make an assessment then you will get a calculated grade. If they are unable to do so, you can ask to register at a centre which has more experience of this type of learning and assessment. If no calculated grade can be awarded, you will have the opportunity to resit.

You need to:

Contact your exam centre to ask whether they can assess your grades.

If you wish to register at another centre, contact the exam board for details.

What’s happening with other qualifications?  

It will depend on the qualification. There are many different types, so this is complex and some of it is still being sorted out.

Broadly speaking, for qualifications that are used for entry to university or further education you will, where possible, receive a calculated grade (as with GCSEs and A Levels). Many BTECs, for example, will fall into this group.

However, some vocational (work related) qualifications must also involve assessing your skills to make sure you are capable of doing the job. Where possible these assessments are being adapted so that they can still happen safely (e.g. online or through video).

How can I find out more?

Keep in touch with your school or college who are working with exam boards to sort this out.

For more information keep checking here.

Got a job? Great. How to begin work brilliantly

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Have you been looking for a job in lockdown? Are you feeling excited but a little nervous about the prospect of starting a job? Perhaps it’s your first job and you’ve no idea what to expect.

Here, Alex Leonard, Employer Engagement Co-ordinator at Sheffield Futures provides advice and guidance on how to prepare for your first day and what to expect.

Hello, Alex here and today I’m talking to those of you that have made a great list of skills, delivered a fantastic CV, done a knock-out interview and as a result have nailed that job. I’ll be talking to you about how to prepare yourself for making a fantastic first impression that will continue to give for you weeks into the job. Here are my top tips on how to begin work brilliantly.

  • Presentation and hygiene. First and foremost it’s essential that you turn up looking and fresh and smart. If you need help getting a suit or professional clothing, we can help, give us a call. If you’re due to wear a uniform at work then make sure you have given the right sizes to your line manager or the person organizing your introduction
  • Mentally fresh and energized. This is all about feeling fresh and energized so you can tackle the day ahead. Make sure you’ve eaten well and had a good nights sleep. This will give you the energy to deal with interactions, keeping you alert and focused so you can make the best impression possible and deal with information overload! You’ll have to take onboard a lot of information on your first day!
  • Be professional. If you look, feel and act smart then you will gain people’s respect from the outset. This is important, as the positive relationships you make will help you be memorable and will help you as you get settled in
  • Smile and be polite. This will make you approachable. Be enthusiastic and ask questions about what you’re being told. Show you’re proactive and enthusiastic
  • Take notes. Don’t feel silly walking around with a note pad. Make notes of names of colleagues, hours and shifts and times. You can use this as your memory back up!
  • Awareness of process. You will most likely have an induction meeting on your first day which will involve introductions to people, health and safety processes and being shown round the building. Make sure you take notes on how things are done – the culture – for example, is there a dress down Friday? Are you allowed to eat at your desk and importantly where can you get a coffee or a snack!

For more information, advice and guidance about getting into work from Alex look out for Alex’s videos on Sheffield Futures’ YouTube channel or call Sheffield Futures on 0114 201 2800

Found a job you like the look of? How to best demonstrate your skills to nail that job

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Are you leaving school this year? Have you been looking for a job in lockdown? Have you found a job you like the look of but you’re not sure how to demonstrate your skills?

Alex Leonard, Employer Engagement Co-ordinator at Sheffield Futures provides advice and guidance on how to demonstrate your skills on a job application, or on the phone during an interview.

Hello, Alex again here and this time I’m going to look at the top ten skills that employers in Sheffield want to see and how to show you’ve got these skills.

Top 10 skills

  1. IT and tech

Remember the importance of demonstrating this. Unless you provide an example specifically, other people won’t just assume you have the skills. For example, if you’re going for an office job, specifically outline how you’ve used Office 365 in the past to meet objectives.

  1. Problem solving

Think about a time in life when you’ve overcome a problem. If you don’t have a work-based problem then something personal is fine too. Think about what the problem was, what you did to solve it and what the result was.

  1. English language

If you’re speaking, remember to think about what you want to say and then speak clearly, slowly and be conscious of breathing normally to stay calm.

  1. English literacy

If you’re writing a CV or an application, the quality of your written presentation says a lot about you. Remember do your applications in Microsoft Word and use the spelling and grammar check. If you can, get someone you trust to look over it for you!

  1. Attention to detail

Show the employer you’ve spent some time looking at their website and finding out details about them.

  1. Teamwork

If you don’t have team-work experience on a job then think about a time you have worked in a team in school, on a project or even while gaming online or doing a team sport. What part did you play in the team meeting its goal?

  1. Maths

A good way to demonstrate your skills in this area is how you manage money in your personal life. How do you manage the money you have to make sure you can meet your needs?

  1. Planning

Make sure you’ve read the job description, you know what they’re looking for and you can demonstrate your skills in these areas! Be there on time, well dressed and show them you know your strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Organisation

Do your research. Use this to define reasons why you want to work for them. This will set you apart.

  1. Communication

Talk clearly but also be conscious of listening, make sure your body language is alert, confident and smart and make direct eye contact with the person you are talking to.

For more information, advice and guidance about getting into work from Alex visit and check out  Alex’s videos on Sheffield Futures YouTube channel 

Job hunting? Where to start if you’ve no on the job experience

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Are you due to leave school this year and looking for your first proper job? No work experience and feel like you’ve not much to offer?

Alex Leonard, Employer Engagement Co-ordinator at Sheffield Futures provides advice and guidance on looking at the skills you’ve got and growing these to give you the edge when it comes to securing a job.

First of all I want you to think about your skills. I like to call this, looking at what’s in your skills jar. When you interact with people in life you grow your communication skills and when you overcome difficulties, you grow your problem-solving skills. As you do these things you add to your skills and your skills jar fills up.

So, how do we go about filling that skills jar? Firstly, it’s really important to take on the right mindset. The mindset we all need to grow anything in life is a positive mindset. Growing ourselves, growing our skills, growing anything is hard work, it takes a positive and ‘can do’ mindset but it’s worth it, as the good things that come with work, like money, confidence and feeling good about yourself are all more than worth a bit of hard work in the short term!

Grow the skills you have got

So now you know what your skills are, have a think about how you can grow the list of skills to get where you want to be. Here are some ideas:

Training courses

Training courses are a good port of call if you want to strengthen your Maths or English skills or even want to go down a specialist route for example writing code for websites or driving trucks.


Work for a charity or do great work in community to learn skills as you go. Volunteering looks great on your CV as it shows you have the get up and go to get the experience employers are looking for.

Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) is a great place to look in Sheffield or you can look on the websites of charities that interest you.

Work experience

Apply for temporary unpaid work experience and get a foot in the door. This will give you vital experience and exposure to the workplace. You will be able to get a reference and may even get lucky and be the first to know about paid jobs coming up!

Entry level jobs

Entry level jobs are jobs have a low requirement for skills or training, they’re paid and rely on doing a great interview. This might be a good option if you know the specific field you want to be in, are aware of what’s in your skills jar and want to work your way up in an organisation.

For more information, advice and guidance about getting into work from Alex check out Alex’s videos on Sheffield Futures YouTube channel 

Expert advice from Sheffield Futures for GCSE results day

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Sheffield’s students have come to the end of a nerve wracking summer wait for those all-important grades. Many students will be celebrating today 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 – who delivers careers advice in schools across Sheffield – is on hand to provide advice and guidance.

What to consider on results day 

  1. Stay calm so you can think clearly
  2. If things haven’t panned out as you wanted, contact the sixth form or college where you hoped to study. They may have arranged for a member of staff to be in your school on results day or you may already have an appointment to go and enrol. If not, get on the phone to them and explain your situation. They will talk to you about alternatives and may be able to offer you another course.
  3. A change of course? Look at other courses where the entry requirements fit with your grades. There may be staff available in the school or 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 and dates.
  4. What about an apprenticeship? You would have a paid job and also study alongside this. There are different types of apprenticeship. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Sarah Traynor, Careers & Information Adviser 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 all your options as you still have plenty available, from paid apprenticeships to traineeships and study programmes or other paid work.’

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

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

Young people looking for advice and guidance with regards to next steps after GCSEs and also emotional support can drop in to Star House today between 11-4pm for support from our youth workers and Door 43 wellbeing workers.

Sheffield Futures is also holding a ‘Get Sorted’ event on 5th September at Star House, 12:00 noon to 2:00pm, for young people looking for a place in work, training or education.

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

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.


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