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Top marks pose recruitment challenge

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Rising grades for school leavers and students are proving a headache for recruiters; say the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

A-level results this summer are expected to excel expectations. The results are to be published this Thursday and are believed to show an improvement on last year’s results where 21.6% of entries were awarded an A grade.

Admissions tutors at the leading universities say they are finding it increasingly difficult to select the very best candidates, because more people are getting top grades.

CIPD’s Rebecca Clarke says: “No-one would wish to knock success. The results achieved by students in recent years are a credit to them. GCSE and A-level exam results remain a good indicator of basic aptitude.

“However, as employers find increasing numbers of students achieving the highest grades in exams, they are being forced to think carefully about how they differentiate between candidates.”

To get around the problem, the CIPD advise recruiters to set very clear job guidelines through a job specification while urging candidates to give more thought to their presentation in job applications. Focusing attention on why they are the right person for the job will force recruits to remove their dependency on exam results as their unique selling point.

While employers are left confused by the rising standards, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) welcome the news seeing it as an answer to plug the skills gap.

Speaking to HRZone, Tom Hadley of the REC said:

“We welcome any increase in qualifications and skills amongst young people. Our recent surveys suggest significant shortages of skills within the workforce, which we hope this will help to stem. As an industry we will help to find jobs for many receiving their qualifications, this week, and next, both in temporary and permanent positions, and we look forward to introducing them to the world of work.”

Schools minister, David Miliband admitted: “Universities and employers do need a means to select the highest achievers,” but he refutes allegations that standards had been ‘dumbed down’.

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Annie Hayes

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