18 August 2016

Yesterday, I spoke to Radio Manchester about different routes to success to offer some hope to all anxious A-level students and parents in the region. You might be one parent, feeling anxious for your child today, or you might be a student not wanting to disappoint your parents. lawrence jones mbe

Either way; it’s important to remember that not everyone follows the same route to success. My personal journey has been anything but straight forward. I felt very ashamed when I received four U grades in my A-levels, and my parents were – rightfully – shocked. I don’t think they thought I would achieve much without the necessary grades and degrees, while in fact, it was this failure that drove me harder to succeed.

In my business, I consider values and attitude over skills and degrees. These days, I can honestly say I don’t look at academic records at all; nearly half of everyone in the UKFast team doesn’t have a degree. Instead, I look for skills you can’t teach. I look for people who want to learn from experience and who want to grow and develop.

We don’t want everyone to be equal. It would be a very dull society! Yet we only measure certain things in school. We look at academic skills over determination and energy. Many of the entrepreneurs I know were academic flops, yet they managed to take control of their own future and become incredibly successful. This requires a lot of skill!

I really think everybody can be a superstar at something in their life, but it can’t all be the same thing and it can’t be everything. You see this in sports too. You can be a rubbish long jumper, but be a superstar in rugby. It is all about finding what you are best at.

Not everyone needs to take the same path to achieve their ambitions and further education is not always the best way forward. Sometimes you might need a break to live in the real world and realise where your skills lay or what you would like to learn. Our apprenticeship scheme is great for this. They are one example of mixing this real-world experience with a tangible qualification.

Whatever your results today, it is an exciting time full of change and exciting challenges. Get out there and make a difference!

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