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Blog: James Russell on the vital support of the Exam Results Helpline

When the Exam Results Helpline phones start ringing on 8 August, for me it distils everything that is great about Skills Development Scotland and how our service supports our customers.

It brings together our committed careers advisers, decades of experience and an unparalleled knowledge of Scotland's skills landscape as around 139,000 young people receive their exam results.

Whether the results arrive by post, email or text, one thing is guaranteed. Everyone opening them experiences feelings of anticipation and trepidation, albeit in different measures.

For many young people, it is the culmination of months, perhaps years, of hard work and long hours of study. For many parents, it is just as nerve-wracking and heralds the end of one kind of support and the start of another.

Skills Development Scotland's (SDS) careers service has expert advice and support available every day. The SDS Exam Results Helpline (0808 100 8000) opens at 8am on results day.

This is the 25th year of the Helpline and if previous experience is anything to go by, the first call comes through in a matter of seconds. It's followed by more than 1,000 others over the course of that day.

Most calls come from people who didn't get the results they had hoped for, some from people who did better than expected. Around a third of calls are made by parents and carers.

"It brings together our committed careers advisers, decades of experience and an unparalleled knowledge of Scotland's skills landscape."

James Russell, SDS Acting Director of Operations

All calls are dealt with by SDS advisers, who work in SDS careers centres and schools throughout Scotland. All on the Helpline are volunteers.This dedicated group includes veterans who have taken part for two decades to those volunteering for the first time.

Time and time again they stress the "don't panic" message and talk pupils through every stage of what comes next. Their calm, reassuring manners help even the most distraught students.

Tuesday is a big day but it is vital to remember that whatever those envelopes, emails and text messages reveal, this is just the beginning of something, not the end.

There are lots of opportunities and options available. Our advisers can let pupils and parents know what is on offer and how to make the most of them.

For young people who want to go on to university or college, advisers can talk them through each step of the process. The Helpline has information on UCAS course vacancies to exactly how Clearing works, how to track their progress through their Clearing number.

The advisers also have information on course choices, conditional offers and appeals.

There's other options such as Modern Apprenticeships or Foundation Apprenticeships for school pupils.

Modern Apprenticeships allow young people to learn on the job, get practical experience while getting paid and getting an industry-recognised qualification.

Foundation Apprenticeships help young people gain valuable, real-world work experience and access work-based learning while they're still at school. For more information visit

Our Helpline advisers also have information about volunteering and gap years, jobs, internships and other types of work experience.

Pupils and parents don't have to wait until the Helpline, which runs until 16 August, opens - there's information 24 hours a day at Scotland's careers website, My World of Work

Good luck to everyone and remember, whatever happens on Tuesday, help is just a call or a click away.

Source - Skills Development Scotland website

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