Attention graduates: employers don't care about exam results

Companies care far more about school and college leavers' attitudes to work than GCSEs, according to the CBI and Pearson.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 03 Aug 2015

No matter what parents say (and always will do), exams are not the be all and end all – only 38% of companies said qualifications were an important factor in recruiting school and college leavers and 30% said they cared about academic results, when surveyed by the CBI and mega-publisher Pearson.

What does matter is someone’s attitude to work and their ‘general aptitudes’, with 85% and 63% respectively saying those were important. Literacy and numeracy are surprisingly low down businesses’ hit list: only 44% of the 291 surveyed cited them as crucial.

Essentially, if you’re keen and can show you’ll be good at the job, you’ll probably get hired, despite those 10 marks you once dropped when you forgot how to calculate percentages.

What’s slightly confusing given companies’ apparently blasé attitude to maths in the recruiting process is half said they were dissatisfied with school and college leavers’ basic numeracy, communication and problem solving skills.

Meanwhile, 62% are concerned about ‘self-management and resilience’. Much of the blame has to be laid at the feet of the education system – if students have been spoon-fed exam answers, how are they going to figure things about for themselves in the workplace?

One area young people are doing ok on, unsurprisingly, is IT – 96% of firms were happy with their recruits’ computer skills. All that Facebooking, Instagramming and Tweeting were good for something then…

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