“When I left school, I’d lost hope in myself and my future,” says an aspiring teacher with autism.
Amidst A-level and GCSE results across the country, 17-year-old Joshua Hughes from Caerphilly is encouraging young people to explore all their options and to take full advantage of the vital help available from Careers Wales.
The Young Person’s Guarantee ensures all under 25s in Wales can access support to gain a place in education or training, find a job or become self-employed. School and college leavers can get help through Working Wales, which offers free and impartial careers advice and is on hand to support young people, helping them to find an alternate route into their dream career.
Despite a challenging start to his career path, Joshua is now on track to become a specialist educational needs teacher. He is encouraging other young people to speak to Working Wales this results season.
Joshua struggled in mainstream education and was diagnosed with autism. He was referred to a Learning Pathway Centre where he thrived thanks to the adapted learning environment and support of a careers adviser who helped him to work out his goals and discover the qualifications and experience he needed.
He explained: “I found school quite difficult, but I’ve always dreamed of a career where I could work with people like me and help them. I knew I wanted to work with children, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. My careers adviser, Lisa, really helped me to focus my mind and find qualifications that could start to open doors and give me opportunities.
“I started a qualification in Health and Social Care, but unfortunately, I struggled with remote learning during the pandemic and made the difficult decision to leave the course. From the guidance I’d received from Lisa throughout school, I was able to get myself back on track, and I found a job as a Teaching Assistant.
“I find it so rewarding working with children who have additional learning needs like me. It’s reinforced my goal of wanting to help young and vulnerable people and make a difference in their lives.”
Joshua is now working to become a qualified teacher, and the support he received from Lisa has helped him identify the routes he can take to achieve his goal.
He continued: “My experience is proof that, no matter where you start out, there are lots of different ways to find out what your dream career is and work your way towards achieving it.
“I couldn’t have done that without getting expert advice. Having someone to listen to you and help you make a plan is so valuable.
“When I left school, I’d lost hope in myself and my future, but Lisa was able to restore that hope and faith in myself.
“I’d encourage anyone getting their results and wondering what to do next to speak to Working Wales; I wouldn’t be where I am now without their help. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back from your ambitions.”
Nikki Lawrence, Chief Executive of Careers Wales said: “Joshua’s inspiring story serves as a testament to Working Wales’ mission to empower individuals with the knowledge and support to thrive in their desired professions, regardless of any setbacks they may face.
“It’s fantastic to see how his journey with us has developed and that he’s now on track for success in a career he already loves.
“We’re here to help anyone who might need support after getting their results this summer, whether they’re higher or lower than expected, we can offer expert advice and guidance to help young people access routes they might not have previously considered to achieve their goals.
“There’s always more than one route to reaching a career and we can help shine a light on the support that’s out there for school and college leavers this summer.”
A recent survey of over 55,000 year 11, 12 and 13 pupils by Careers Wales revealed the top routes young people chose last summer.
For those completing GCSEs and their final year of school or college, staying in full-time education was the most popular choice, with 87.8 per cent and 76.7 per cent choosing this option respectively. A further 3.4 per cent of GCSE and 12.7 per cent of year 13 students opted to enter the labour market. Work-based training programmes were picked by 3 per cent of GCSE and 2.9 per cent of year 13 pupils across Wales last year.
Vaughan Gething, Minister for Economy said:
“The Welsh Government created the Young Person’s Guarantee to support young people to fulfil their potential by giving them a helping hand to make informed decisions about their futures and achieve their goals.
“So, it’s so really inspiring to see young people like Josh taking advantage of the schemes available through the Guarantee, which is equipping them with the skills and experience they need to stay in education or to enter the world of work.
“Ahead of the results period this year, I’d like to encourage young people and their parents to look at all the support and options open to them, and to reach out to services such as Working Wales to help them navigate their next steps.
“I wish them all every success for the future.”
For more information about the Young Person’s Guarantee, and how to access support around results, visit the Working Wales website, call free on 0800 028 4844, speak to an adviser via webchat, or email [email protected]