Six in 10 Scots regret career choices after school as college launches National Opportunity Day

Noma Dube (Glasgow Kelvin College)

MORE than six in 10 Scots regret the career choices they made after leaving school, new research has found. 

The findings emerged from a study commissioned by Glasgow Kelvin College to mark National Opportunity Day (Wednesday, August 9), a new national day launched by the institution to redefine perceptions about clearing

The official awareness day has been created to open the eyes of potential students to the wealth of career options open to them, and the opportunities available at the college’s open day (Wednesday, August 9). 

The National Opportunity Day campaign has been backed by major names in business and education, including millionaire businessman Lord Willie Haughey, a former student at Springburn College, one of Kelvin’s founder colleges. 

The study of 2,000 Scots, conducted by independent insights agency Opinion Matters, also found seven in 10 parents (70%) believe their children are pushed down career paths too early. 

Around 64% of respondents said they wished they could go back in time and make a different choice following school, with 61% saying they’d have chosen something more practical. 

What’s more, 82% of Scottish parents would encourage their children to train in a practical profession when they leave school. 

According to the study, 43% of Scots believe they rushed into choosing a career after school, with 38% unhappy with the career advice they were given. Four in 10 (42%) were unaware college was even an option. 

Of those surveyed, just under a third (29%) didn’t know about the variety of courses on offer at college. 

Derek Smeall, principal of Glasgow Kelvin College, said: “National Opportunity Day is only the beginning for thousands of potential students across Scotland. There are a huge amount of options available to them across a vast range of trades, industries, and professions. 

“These findings show Scots are waking up to the opportunity that college provides for people of all ages and stages in their careers. They realise the choice you make after school does not pigeonhole you for life. 

“College education provides a gateway to a career some may never have thought possible, or perhaps a new part of the one you’re already in. 

“The window of opportunity shouldn’t close at 18, or when you didn’t get the exam grades you hoped for, or when you’ve already started one career; it’s there for you as long as you want it. The world is full of possibilities. We’ve created National Opportunity Day to showcase the diverse choices available, made for your passions, and talents.”

Lord Haughey, founder of City Facilities Management which employs 9,000 people across Scotland and the UK, attended Springburn College, which is now home to Kelvin’s Springburn Campus, as part of a commercial engineering apprenticeship.

He said: “The practical skills and confidence I gained at college set me up for life. The range of options available to gain experience across a range of disciplines enables students at all stages of their careers to find what they excel at and the opportunities within them. 

“Not only did I benefit personally, but I have seen countless employees thrive through the opportunities offered at college, where they learn the hands-on, practical skills required to take on a vast array of roles. 

“The National Opportunity Day initiative from Glasgow Kelvin College is an incredibly creative way to shine the brightest spotlight on the wealth of opportunities available to students, and awaken a nation to the possibilities on offer to people at all ages and stages through a practical and applicable college education.” 

The campaign has been backed by former Glasgow Kelvin College student and award-winning fashion designer Siobhan Mackenzie, a former student at the college. After graduating in fashion design and production, Siobhan has gone on to design kilts for the likes of Justin Bieber and Team Scotland for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. 

Also involved is Noma Dube, a student who is currently employed by Glasgow Kelvin College and was a former Student President while she studied Applied Science at the college last year. 

National Opportunity Day (Wednesday, August 9) provides a moment to make a change and embark on a journey of endless possibilities. To find out more visit

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