Why employers should look beyond the grades

Louise Lee, Principal, Oasis Academy Shirley Park, explains why on GCSE results day businesses need to look beyond letters and numbers in order to give young people the greatest start in life

 

It’s GCSE results day and young people all over the country will be finding out whether their hard work has paid off. At Oasis Academy Shirley Park we place a great deal of emphasis on enabling our students to get their best possible results, because grades do still matter. However, I know young people need more than good exam results to progress beyond the school gates. I want my young people and indeed all young people to access opportunities that will develop skills such as empathy, resilience and relationship building and for these to be recognised and celebrated alongside the letters and numbers they receive today.

 

Taking a whole community approach

While school staff work hard to help young people achieve all these things we cannot do it alone. We need to build a whole school, whole person, whole community approach that brings parents and carers, young people, teachers and businesses together.

We all need to take up the challenge of ensuring that education and employment practices are fit for the future rather than focussing on how we can fit young people within the status quo.

 

The changing world of work

Because the world of work is changing rapidly. Currently 65 per cent of children entering primary school will have jobs that do not yet exist. As a member of Business in the Community’s Headteachers steering group and one of the 560 Business Class partnerships that have been set up across the country, I am very much alive to the challenges that business faces in terms of recruiting the right skills and talent for a future none of us are clear about.

 

Finding the balance of education, experience and opportunity

Indeed some employers are beginning to recognise this in their recruitment processes, valuing softer skills and looking at behaviour or assessing potential, but unfortunately this is still not the norm. Also from my perspective enabling and empowering young people to navigate these processes or gain these softer skills is also still not the norm, especially for those from harder to reach communities. BITC’s research with the City & Guilds Group has found that a third of young people find the recruitment process difficult as too many companies continue to over rely on just asking for work experience when they are recruiting for entry level roles.

 

It is easy on days like today for the message to be that young people need to work harder or schools need to prepare young people more effectively. Yet this does not capture the reality of the narrative. Businesses need to get better at recruiting young people and recognising their skills and potential. To ensure that we enable all young people to have the greatest start in life we need a balance of good education, experience and opportunity to develop those skills that are not quantified by numbers or letters.

 

So my request to employers is simple, get involved with your local schools, work with the teachers, parents and carers and the young people to de-mystify the world of work and empower them to develop their whole selves because young people are the future and today is but one step towards a brave new world.

 

Please note you will have noticed that I referred to numbers and letters in this blog post. This is because the GCSE system has and is changing. By 2020 all GCSE grades will be denoted by a number 1-9. This year we begin that transition with English, English Literature and Maths. This will mean the CV’s landing in your inboxes will look different. To understand what a 7 means read this factsheet.