· News

Give young people the tools they need to get into work rather than focusing on A-level pass rates, says British Chamber of Commerce

As more than a quarter of a million students receive A-level results this morning, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) claims too much attention is focused on the annual ritual of exam results and too little on the skills young people need to succeed at work.

Adam Marshall, director of policy at the BCC, said: "Companies up and down the country tell us too many young people are still leaving school, college or university without the tools needed to get into work. So rather than focus on A-level pass rates, councils, colleges and local businesses need to form a closer partnership - ensuring employers can recruit locally and young people get the training they need to get ahead."

This year more than one in four A-level entrants (26.7%) achieved the top grade and the overall pass rate rose to 97.5%, an increase of 0.3% from last year. There are also 60,000 more applications for university places than last year - putting pressure on the graduate recruitment market.

And, regardless of results, thousands of school leavers will begin their hunt for job vacancies while the country is in the grip of recession.

The Forum of Private Business is encouraging small firms to implement apprenticeship schemes, internships and work experience programmes to help "creative and driven" young recruits learn what employers need from their staff.

Phil Orford, the Forum of Private Business's chief executive, said: "Our members value young people who can bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm to the workplace. It is important that young people leave school, college of university with the skills and confidence they need to enter their first job and do well."

But research from jobsite.co.uk shows 53% of firms are still hiring and, of these, 80% are looking for full-time permanent staff. Jobsite also reports 15% companies are also recruiting full-time junior HR roles.