Commenting on today’s GCSE results, John Wastnage, Employment and Skills Adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:
“Pupils and teachers across the country have worked hard to achieve these results, and we offer our congratulations to them. Businesses will welcome the greater consistency in grading and the increased take up of languages, Maths and English, but there are deep concerns that the government judges a successful education on academic results alone. The Education Secretary continues to have an enormous blindspot over the pressing need to prepare young people with the soft skills required for the working world.
“The government’s new traineeship scheme has the potential to reduce the number of NEETs by providing assistance for those who want to work but lack the basic skills and behaviours. It is shocking that so many young people leave education without being taught how to act in the workplace. Firms want to see young people given this basic preparation at school, so that they can enter the workforce without the need for extra training from employers. Traineeships are a temporary solution, not an alternative to quality careers education.
“Greater academic rigour is of course crucial to the solution, but the Department of Education must also ensure that young people experience contact with employers from varying sectors, and receive information and guidance about the career opportunities on offer.”
On the raised participation age:
“This is the first year that 16-year-olds are legally required to remain in education or training for a year. While schools are meant to inform pupils of the many options available, it is disappointing that many of them continually push academic study as the preferred route for young people, despite an apprenticeship often offering a better route into a secure and skilled career.”
On the increased take-up of foreign languages:
“Our research shows that having the right language skills and experience of living abroad makes it more likely that a UK business will take the leap and trade internationally. It is reassuring that the English Baccalaureate has encouraged more people to learn a foreign language, and it is important that this helps to reverse the decline in British students studying foreign languages to a higher level. Language skills will offer exciting life experiences, boost employment prospects as well as enable the UK economy to compete internationally.”