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It is 'crucial' Government involves employers in any changes to A-level system, says CBI


Employers should be given more say in the design of A-level qualifications, the CBI has said following proposals to change the system were put forward by the education secretary.

The education secretary, Michael Gove (pictured), has proposed a shake-up to the A level system, to give universities more control over the design and development of the exams, in a letter to the exam regulator Ofqual.

But responding to the letter, and publishing its own research, Ofqual reports employers have called for the exms to be changed so school leavers can "hit the ground running" when they start work should they choose not to attend university.

Glenys Stacey, Ofqual's chief regulator, said: "Ofqual welcomes the intention to give universities a larger role in the design and development of A-levels.

"We have been working with DfE on this, and will be publishing shortly our reply to the Secretary of State's letter, as well as a research report into HE views of A levels.

"We want A levels to be the best possible preparation for young people's futures. We have spoken to employers, those in schools and in higher education and they tell us that A levels need to cover sufficient depth and breadth so that students can hit the ground running when they go on to the next stage of their lives.

"We think that universities have a big role to play in making sure they do. We have also compared A levels with qualifications in other countries.

"We will now continue our consultations with higher education, colleges and schools and others to make sure our A levels are the best they can be."

Neil Bentley, CBI deputy director-general, said: "The debate on improving standards is welcome, but focus should not just be on how best to prepare young people for university, but also how to ensure they are well-equipped for work.

"Many young people choose to go straight into a job after A-levels, or start an apprenticeship, so they need to have developed essential employability skills, such as team working and time management, as well as academic rigour.

"Businesses value the A-level system as a key benchmark for recruiting the right young people, but believe that there is room for improvement. It's crucial that the Government involves employers in any future changes to the system."