AS TEENAGERS in our region picked up their A-Level results last month, once the jumping for joy and hugging had died down one major question must have occupied many: what next?

A recent major study commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that more than half of UK graduates are not working in jobs which use their degree.

Being able to get a university education is a privilege, and the best and brightest benefit from it, but more and more in this country we treat it as the natural next step in education after school.

That can be a rewarding gamble or a waste of time, which is why the completion of Didcot’s new University Technical College is such a refreshing innovation.

Opening this week, it will specifically aim to prepare students for careers in science and industry, teaching the skills that companies are looking for.

The curriculum has even been designed in conjunction with local employers, like Mini Plant Oxford, RM Education and the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell.

On the wider issue of education as a whole, it is important that there is an increasing range of options for youngsters to get a practical learning experience at school that will boost their employment prospects.

Many are not naturally suited to a strictly academic education, so they need more vocational training to stop them slipping through the net and provide the skilled workforce that our nation needs.

Furthermore, not everyone wants to go to university and rack up the debts that go with it.

It is fantastic that thousands of young people have the option to go to university if that is what they want, but it is even better that school leavers in Oxfordshire have a realistic alternative that can even get them a decent job at the end of it.