Across the country, thousands of GCSE students are opening their results after a nervy night’s sleep. Five years of work, learning and often stress, comes down to the very moment they open the envelope. School halls across the country will see scenes of joy and happiness and images of students hugging one another will be a feature on our television screens.

Along with the celebrations today, I suspect there will also be scenes of disappointment and sadness. Many students will face agonising decisions if they didn’t receive the grades they had hoped for and will be expected to map out their future within the next few days. I urge young people and their parents to consider their options carefully and think about what works for the individual.

13 years ago, I picked up my own GCSE results at a high school in Salford. With no A*s or As in sight I spent the entire day in floods of tears. I went to enrol in my chosen college on the same day, only to be told I couldn’t take A-Level English due to not achieving a C or above in GCSE Maths.

My mum was told: “The work will be too much for her Ms Roberts, she’ll fall behind quickly.”

I eventually enrolled onto the course, and after two years I went onto study at university with Media and English A-Levels under my belt, along with that C in GCSE Maths! Thankfully, I’ve found a job I’m passionate about, and with a company who will help me move forward in my chosen industry.

I am often surprised at the number of different ways people have forged their own career paths. Our Group Chief Executive, John Quinton-Barber left school with one O-Level and didn’t sit A-Levels. He graduated with first-class honours through a university access course a number of years later. He is now a successful business owner and has grown Social Communications to a team of 40 employees, with offices in Manchester, Leeds, London and Bristol.

There are many ways for individuals to achieve success. Our client, the National College For High Speed Rail, offers people a different path towards a future in engineering, for example through the apprenticeship route. Students gain hands-on skills and training to achieve their goals.

Exams are meant to differentiate students on grounds of merit. Although important, I believe employers must assess potential candidates on several different types of skills. A candidate’s ‘can do’ attitude, work ethic and passion should be key qualities assessed throughout the hiring process. As professionals in our chosen fields, it’s important we look beyond exams and offer young people different routes into thriving at work.

No matter what the individual outcome is today, I urge young people to remain positive and keep going. I suspect sheer determination will get them further than they think, and I will look forward to seeing the talent, skills and dedication they will contribute to each industry over the next few years.