By Marcus Leach

For the first time in over twenty years there has been a fall in the number of students awarded A or A* grade in their A-level results, that were released today (Thursday).

This summer's results show 26.6% of A-level entries achieved the top two grades - down from 27% last year.

In years gone by the traditional route would be to head to university, although for many students that is not the first option now. This view is supported by research that claims many university leavers are lacking in the necessary skills to enter the business world.

Dr Neil Bentley, CBI Deputy Director-General, was quick to praise the efforts of those receiving their results.

“Congratulations to all students achieving the grades they worked so hard for in today’s A-level results," he said.

"It’s particularly pleasing that the growth in numbers studying science and maths is continuing, as these subjects are critical to the future success of our economy. Given our need to expand exports to boost growth, the further drop in language entries is a concern.”

On the importance on A-level rigour he said:

“A-levels are the academic peak of the schools system and they are an invaluable benchmark for employers when recruiting. Businesses support the Government’s plans to underpin the stretch and rigour of the exams which will help retain their status.

“With more employers looking to hire at 18 — often through innovative ‘learn-while-you-earn’ schemes — the Government should listen to business views to ensure exam reforms help better prepare young people for work and life.”

On the importance of rigour in non A-level courses he said:

“With the education leaving age being raised to 18 before the next General Election, there is even more pressure to develop high quality, rigorously examined options for those who do not choose the A-level route.

“Too often these courses have been the Cinderella of the debate and we need to urgently address this, by developing simple and effective structures for vocational study and by learning from the good examples offered by University Technical Colleges and others. The CBI will publish its proposals in new research on the education system this autumn.”

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