The annual debate among employers about the value of exam qualifications is in full flow following last week’s A-level results.
The Institute of Directors said employers were more concerned about low levels of literacy and numeracy rather than A-levels.
Director general, Miles Templeman, said the primary objective for the government should be to ensure that all young people leave school literate and numerate. He added there was no case for replacing A-levels with a diploma as there was “no guarantee that it would lead to higher standards or improvements in literacy and numeracy – the key concern of employers”.
The CBI said the government needed to do more to persuade students to study science and foreign languages if it wanted the UK to compete with the Far East, rather than get into a debate about the validity of A-levels.
CBI director general, Sir Digby Jones, said: “Students [should be] encouraged to take A-levels that will equip them for the modern world of work, rather than fixating on the percentage that pass.”
However, the British Chambers of Commerce president, Bill Midgley, said: “What A-levels mean remains a mystery for employers.”
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warned that debating standards risked diverting attention away from the real challenge for employers – differentiating between candidates with similar results.