GCSE results 2022: business applauds the next generation

Representative bodies the CBI and Make UK welcome today’s GCSE and vocational and technical qualification results, especially the rise in STEM awards.

Portrait Of Engineering Apprentices In Factory
Employers joined with teachers and parents to congratulate the thousands of GCSE and IGCSE students receiving their results today.Over three-quarters (75.3%) of GCSE grades for 16-year-olds in England are at grade 4 or above, up from 69.9% in 2019 when formal exams last took place. Top grades for 16-year-olds in England also increased on 2019, with 27% of entries achieving a grade 7 and above.In Wales, 25.1% of GCSE grades issued were grade A/7 or above; 68.6% were grade C/4 or above; and 97.3% were grade G/1 or above.In Northern Ireland, 37% of students received grade A/7 and above, and outcomes at grade C/4 and above were up 7.8 percentage points from 2019 to 90%. STEM subjects continued to account for over 40% of entries.Statistics published by the Government today also show 369,220 certificates across 141 qualifications have been awarded since March 2022, 96% of which are Technical Awards taken alongside GCSEs.
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STEM attainment up

“Despite difficult and unusual circumstances coming out of the pandemic period, today’s GCSE results are to be celebrated,” commented Jamie Cater, Senior Policy Manager at manufacturing champion, Make UK.“It is heartening to see that overall achievement of the top grades across all STEM subjects is higher than before the pandemic and, in particular, the number of girls choosing to study subjects such as science and engineering has risen once again to a new high.“This is encouraging news for manufacturers, who are eager to welcome the next generation of talent into their workplaces, and continue to make opportunities open and available to those finishing their GCSEs who want to combine their further study with high-quality on-the-job training.”

Encouraging inclusion

On the growth of STEM subjects at GCSE level, Robert West, Head of Education and Skills Policy at the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI), agreed that support should continue to encourage more girls into STEM options: “It is great to see STEM subjects like biology and the double award science GCSE growing in popularity, as firms face heightened demand for skills in STEM areas. An increase in GCSE entries for business studies is also welcome.“We need to ensure that our future talent pool includes those currently under-represented in the STEM workforce, by continuing to encourage young people from a broader range of backgrounds to take up STEM subjects and careers.“With male students continuing to outperform their female counterparts in maths, physics and economics at GCSE level, we also need to look at better promoting STEM options to female students and supporting them through that journey.”

GCSE results highlight uneven impact of the pandemic

With the Government and business currently engaging in the levelling up agenda, commentators expressed disappointment at the increase in regional differences in attainment, particularly between the South-East and North-East of England.Just under a third of GCSE grades were 7 and above in London, compared to just over a fifth in the North East, and in Yorkshire and the Humber. Employers must take account of this in recruitment, said Robert West, and recognise the obstacles.“Students have had a particularly challenging few years due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Every school has experienced the pandemic differently. Year 11 students in northern regions missed around 15% of school sessions, compared with around 11% in the south.“Education institutions, as well as employers, must recognise that students from certain areas may have faced bigger barriers than others, and take this into account when assessing results.”

Post-16 options

Students have a number of options for their post-16 journey into further and higher education and workplace training. Vocational qualifications provider, City & Guilds is urging them to consider all opportunities available to them as the pressure to stay in education increases during the cost-of-living crisis."As students receive their GCSE results, it’s no secret that their learning has been disrupted during a critical period in their education," commented David Phillips, Managing Director of City & Guilds. "Now, faced with a rapidly changing jobs market, a cost-of-living crisis and with a potential recession on the horizon, our latest research found that the majority (66%) of 14-16-year-olds now want to stay in full-time education for longer to help them get better-paid jobs in future - with 51% stating the cost of living has made them reconsider the type of career they might do after leaving school or college. “So, as young people look to make a decision on their next steps for their final years at school or college, and with potential earnings and cost of living clearly a priority for younger people, it’s more important than ever that they understand the full range of options available to them, including which types of jobs are likely to be available when they finish their studies and what skills they will need to transition into these."Robust careers advice based on current labour market insight is essential to ensure that young people, parents and teachers are made aware of the full breadth of education and training routes, outside of just traditional academic ones, that can lead to rewarding and well-paid careers when they leave full-time education. With 85% of those who complete apprenticeships staying employed, vocational routes may offer more secure prospects for young people.”

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