WITH exam results dropping through letterboxes last week, or as often these days being sent to text and email inboxes, young people across Clackmannanshire will have been weighing up their future study and career options.

And fortunately, whatever the results our young people received, there are a host of options available to them.

In terms of the exams themselves, the results showed the number of Higher passes remaining stable despite a slight reduction of 2.4 percent in the numbers on school rolls across Scotland. That meant 147,000 Higher passes nationally, with a pass rate of 76.8 per cent, compared to 77.0 per cent in 2017. In addition, the number of Advanced Highers being taken continues to grow.

Results day is a time to celebrate the achievements and dedication of learners right across the country, especially in this the Year of Young People. That’s why I want to offer my congratulations to young people across the Wee County on their hard work and effort, and to the teachers and support staff who have worked tirelessly to prepare them.

For some looking to move on to further studies, the results will mean meeting conditional offers of a place at university or college, whilst for others, the results attained mean engaging with the clearing system to find a place on a course. Others will be looking at career options, including apprenticeship schemes to develop vocational skills leading to a permanent job.

Support is available to make the right career choice through the helpline operated by Skills Development Scotland for pupils and their families seeking advice following the exam results. Skills Development Scotland also offer a wide range of information on career options via their website: myworldofwork.co.uk and at their Facebook page at facebook.com/myworldofwork

A few weeks ago, Tory Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, paid a flying visit to Alloa and while she had time to pose for pictures with our local MP, she dodged meeting with those locally who are struggling under welfare reforms being imposed by her Westminster Government.

If she had taken time to listen to some of those bearing the brunt of these welfare reforms, she would have learned that in far too many cases, the system is failing, with the rollout of Universal Credit in particular causing misery to many of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Despite staring an overwhelming body of evidence in the face – including statistics from our own local foodbanks – the Tories still continue to deny a link between their disastrous policies and a rise in the use of foodbanks. But the reality in my constituency, and across Scotland, is that people are suffering – and the Scottish Government, local councils and the third sector are left to pick up the pieces.

It’s time that our local Tory MP, Luke Graham, and his colleagues recognise that their ‘flagship’ welfare policy isn’t working, listen to people here in Clackmannanshire and across the rest of the UK and halt the rollout of Universal Credit immediately until its failures can be adequately addressed.