TWO Oxfordshire apprentices have spoken about how pleased they are to have pursued an alternative path after finishing their GCSEs.

As teenagers around the county pick up their results today, the two youngsters are encouraging others to consider options aside from further studies at sixth form and university.

One, 18-year-old Katie Harvey, says she has 'so much more real world experience' as a result of her decision after finishing her GCSEs at school.

She explained: "I chose to do an apprenticeship because sitting in a classroom was never for me. It’s not about whether you’re academic or not, it’s about what you’re passionate about. Choosing to do an apprenticeship was the best choice I ever made."

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The former Matthew Arnold School pupil, from Cumnor, now works as an apprentice Electrician at Darke & Taylor and says she always preferred more hands on work and 'never felt like school was for her'.

Miss Harvey continued: "I enjoy going to work everyday and, even though sometimes I have tough days, I have so much more experience in the real world.

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"I earn money while I learn and I’m building my future. What more could I ask for?"

As she neared the end of her GCSEs she investigated other options available to her and now loves the variety offered through her scheme – explaining that one day she can on site at a huge infrastructure project, the next day she could be at a muddy farm.

With 60 per cent of the company’s Senior Management Team being apprentices, she has high hopes for her progression once she has completed the five-year programme and qualifies as an advanced level Electrician.

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Going on to study A-Levels and a degree is traditionally seen as the best route to high earning jobs and specialised professions.

But the Department for Education is currently running an apprenticeship campaign, encouraging youngsters to learn while earning.

Another who decided not to carry on with more formal education is Kerrie-Jo (K-Jo) O'Flynn, who is now an apprentice at Oxford Space Systems.

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The former Chipping Norton School pupil, 18, has always loved problem solving and knew engineering was the path she wanted to follow.

But, despite the school pushing her towards further study, the 'academically gifted' youngster fancied a 'more hands on' opportunity, so jumped at the Space Systems role in the Manufacturing, Assembly, Integration and Testing Team.

Since joining the firm the Oxford youngster has enjoyed working on a new generation of deployable antennas and structures that are lighter, less complex and lower cost than those in current commercial demand.

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She said: "Apprenticeships open a whole world of opportunities, no matter what level you are at and what you are passionate about. I went from knowing no engineering at all, to now taking part in major projects for space, helping charities, supporting schools and also teaching a short engineering course to university students."

Last week, sixth form pupils received their A-Level results, with Oxfordshire outperforming much of the rest of the country, as a number of schools celebrated 'record-breaking' results.

For all the results and coverage of tomorrow's results, visit our website and read Friday's newspaper.