From education to employment

GCSE RESULTS DAY: Businesses truly believe that education is more than qualifications alone

John Cope, Head of Education & Skills policy, CBI

In response to this year’s GSCE results, John Cope, CBI Head of Education & Skills policy, said:

“Good luck to those getting their GCSE results today, after what will have been many years of hard work and dedication.

“Regardless of whether people get the results they hoped for or not, it’s important to remember that grades are just one of the factors employers look for. GCSEs are there to enable young people to take the next step in their learning and broaden their understanding of the possibilities out there.”

On the new grading system, John said:

“Today’s results will look very different this year, as more subjects transfer to the new grading system. It’s entirely understandable that if 8s and 9s are depicted as equivalent to last year’s A*s when they’re not, young people will experience unnecessary stress.

“Employers also need to be able to properly understand people’s CV’s, which could now include a series of numbers, letters, words like ‘merit’, ‘distinction’, ‘pass’, ‘fail’, UCAS points, and whatever the new T-Level grading system is.”

On student wellbeing, John said:

“Exam stress and supporting student mental health has rightly become an issue at the front of people’s minds. Ambition to achieve top marks is important, but undue pressure can have unintended consequences for students.

“Businesses truly believe that education is more than qualifications alone. They also highly prize a good attitude and aptitude towards work. Students who strive to reach their own academic potential, who show creative flair, or demonstrate leadership will have a bright future ahead of them.”

On the options for young people after GCSEs, John said:

“There are many routes to kickstart a successful career, whether that’s taking A-Levels, going to college, choosing an apprenticeship or getting a job.  Getting the right careers advice is key. So while A-Levels absolutely offer students a great next step, they are by no means the only route to a higher-level education.

“But the elephant in the room is the apprenticeship levy.  The alarming drop in apprenticeship starts has meant fewer opportunities for young people and firms unable to invest in new talent.  “The Government must urgently reform the system and give the Institute for Apprenticeships teeth as an independent regulator.”

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