Exams should support careers ladder

Commenting on today’s A-level results, Dr Adam Marshall, Executive Director of Policy and External Affairs at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“Businesspeople across the country will offer their sincere congratulations to students on their hard-won A-level results. Businesspeople will welcome the fact that grades are stabilising, as that makes them more confident when assessing potential job candidates.”

“The crucial next step is to ensure that today’s A-level students get ready to make the leap from the world of education to the world of work.

“Exam success is only worth celebrating if it helps young people on to the careers ladder. With youth unemployment still nearly three times the national rate, the overriding priority must be to ensure that today’s A-level candidates can succeed in tomorrow’s businesses, regardless of whether they are going straight into employment or continuing their education elsewhere. Businesses are reporting huge skills gaps, and it’s up to firms, educational institutions and government to work together to make sure that school leavers and graduates are ready to fill them.”


“Grades and overall passes appear to be stabilising, which helps to build confidence in the exam system. This is important to businesses, as they want to know that grades are an accurate reflection of a pupil’s performance. Otherwise, businesses simply won’t take A-level grades into account when recruiting, because they feel that exam results no longer offer clear signals of potential performance.”


“The science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) industries are facing huge skills shortages; in fact in the UK we have a shortfall of around 20,000 STEM graduates each year.

“This skills gap could be set to widen as we’ve seen take-up of sciences fall even further. We need to do all we can to increase participation and interest in science related subjects. We could start by addressing the growing gender gap, as there is almost four times (28,500 / 7,787 – 2015) more male pupils taking physics than females.”


“While it is welcome that there has been a pick-up in the number of students taking foreign languages, with the exception of Spanish the overall trend remains weak.

“Businesses are crying out for people who are multi-lingual. Businesses are international ventures these days, not just domestic, so language skills open up a wide range of opportunities for young people – whether it’s translation, international negotiations or setting up a business overseas.”