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Kent and Medway A levels results announced today

Important decisions face thousands of former pupils - and their parents - today as the A-level results are announced.

For many it is a daunting time, as young people between 16 and 24 are currently three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population, according to the latest Government figures.

But there are many options available, with universities vying to attract students and more apprenticeships on offer for those who want to start earning.

Robert Swinney, Head boy at Archbishop's School in Canterbury
Robert Swinney, Head boy at Archbishop's School in Canterbury

And despite the nerves, it's never as bad as you think it's going to be, according to Sophie Demello, who went through the process last year.

The 19-year-old from Ashford, recalls her trepidation on the morning she collected her results.

She said: "My mum drove me to school and it was a very tense car journey.

"I was with my friends and we all went in together. It was nice to have my friends around me - we were all in the same position and we were all really nervous."

Click here for our LIVE coverage of A-level results day 2015

Many pupils are concerned about not getting the results they expected, and on ripping open her envelope Sophie's worries seemed to be confirmed.

But on checking with the university, she discovered things were not as bad as she had feared.

"I didn't get my predicted grades which I was obviously upset about, but I was still really able to go to uni without going through the clearing process," she said.

"It was really lucky. I wasn't always the best student, and as cheesy as it sounds, hard work really does pay off."

Following her experience, Sophie's advice to this year's A-level hopefuls is not to worry.

She said: "I understand how nerve-wracking and scary it is, especially in the run-up to results day, but what I would say to someone waiting now is don't worry, it will never be as bad as you imagine it's going to be."

While many will be hoping to get the grades they need to secure a university place, there are other options.

Drew, from Rochester, has just completed an apprenticeship with BAE Systems.

Now working for the firm as a hardware technician, the 23-year-old decided to apply for an apprenticeship after getting advice from his brother.

“I’d always been obsessed with aircraft, so I tailored my subjects at GCSE and A-level towards engineering,” he said.

“I was looking to go to university, but my brother pointed out I was more of a hands-on learner, and suggested an apprenticeship.”

As part of his apprenticeship Drew has got a Level 4 HNC in electronic engineering, and is being sponsored by BAE Systems to study for a degree in electronics.

Roger Gough, Kent County Council member for education, said: "University is the natural place for many young people to aim for, but it's not the right solution for everyone, and it's good there are that range of possibilities

"There are of course many other options available such as apprenticeships, and through our website you can type in apprenticeships into the search engine, and you can speak to some of our team here to get advice on apprenticeships as well.

"If you find for whatever reason that you haven't secured the grades you were hoping for, it's very important to get into the UCAS clearing system. There are still opportunities there."

For help on what to do next, students can call The Exam Results Helpline, which opens today.

More than 6,000 people called the helpline last year, which offers advice on a number of issues including re-sits, re-marks, higher education, careers advice, apprenticeship guidance, vocational qualifications and gap years.

The helpline will be available until Monday, August 24, and can be contacted on 0808 100 8000.

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