By Jonathan Davies

The number of students earning A*-C grades at GCSE level rose slightly this year, but the number of top grades fell.

The proportion of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland being awarded A*-C grades rose from 68.8% last year to 69%. The number of A* grades fell 0.1%.

Northern Ireland reported the best results, with pass grades rising 0.7% to 78.7%. Wales' pass rate stayed the same as last year at 66%.

What does this mean for business?

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “Business wants exams at 16 years old to be a staging post on a path to 18 for all young people, not an end in themselves. That is why we want the Government to conduct a wholesale review of 14-18 year-old education with the aim to create a system that delivers academic, vocational and combined options for all young people.

“And employers value attitudes and resilience just as much as academic results, so we must make sure that exams aren’t the only target our schools and colleges have.”

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) urged school to make sure students are fully aware of their options after completing their GCSEs.

John Allan, national chairman of the FSB said: “Schools should be helping students to understand the value of all the options available - including vocational learning, apprenticeships and university study. Good career guidance at this early stage is critical to giving young people the tools needed to make the right choice for them and their career ambitions.

“With their results in hand, now is an excellent time to seek out valuable work experience. This will help young people get a taste of which jobs they might be interested in as well as helping to motivate them to complete their studies and pursue their career goals.”

The CBI's Katja Hall added: “The huge leap in numbers of those studying computing is the icing on the cake [for maths, science and computing numbers]. Digital skills are essential in the modern world and economy, and to keeping the UK at the forefront of technological innovations. However, the fact that less than one in five computing students are women means that we are missing out on a huge pool of digital talent.”

Earlier today, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) fell 21,000 in the second quarter of the year.