From education to employment


John Cope, Head of Education & Skills policy, CBI

Today’s results are the outcome of years of hard work, dedication, and determination for many students. A-Levels have looked different this year as part of efforts to ensure they remain rigorous – a move supported by universities and largely welcomed by business.

Regardless of whether people get the results they hoped for or not, it’s also important to keep in mind that grades are just one of the factors employers look for when hiring. Young people with a positive attitude to work, who show creative flair, or demonstrate leadership are highly prized and have a bright future ahead of them.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects and gender stereotypes

Firms will be delighted to see more girls taking up STEM subjects and performing well.  This must mark the beginning of the end for ridiculous gender stereotyping.

Diverse companies perform better than their rivals, so tackling gender stereotypes is not just the right thing to do, it’s imperative for our country’s economy.

Modern foreign languages

While those taking modern foreign languages have done well, the marked drop in entries is of real concern.  If the Government’s vision of a ‘Global Britain’ is to be meaningful, uptake of languages must increase to support trade and business.

CBI data shows that only a third of companies think that school and college leavers entering the jobs market have adequate foreign language skills.  With French, German and Spanish most commonly mentioned by firms as in demand, the Government’s new Modern Languages Excellence Centre with regional hubs need to address this issue.

Regional data

The familiar story of London and the South East powering ahead has continued, with the North and the Midlands lagging behind.

If we are truly going to deliver on the shared vision to close the learning gap, Government and business must work together to tackle regional variations head on. 

The first step from Government needs to be addressing well-known education cold spots by delivering on their “Opportunity Areas” initiative. And more business must get into the classroom, offer more work experience and mentoring opportunities.

Options for young people after compulsory education

There are many great routes to a successful career whether that’s at a university, college, or learning on the job. It’s important that those getting their A-Level results consider the whole range of options available.

University absolutely offers students a great next step but is by no means the only route to a higher-level education. There are a range of different options – a Higher National Certificate or Diploma, a foundation degree, or a ‘degree apprenticeship’, with an apprenticeship offering the chance to gain both a qualification employers value and start earning a salary straight away.

Rise this year of unconditional offers from universities

What’s driving the growth of unconditional offers is complex. To protect the credibility of our world-class sector, universities must ensure that unconditional offers are used carefully, such as helping widen access to university and driving social justice.

John Cope, Head of Education & Skills policy, CBI

About CBI: Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors. The CBI’s corporate members together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of private sector-employees. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world.

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