Careers: do employers really care about GCSE grades?

We all know GCSEs are important for entry into further education, but will employers want to know students' grades?

Employers often take an interest in GCSE grades if a young applicant doesn't have much work experience

GCSE grades are of the utmost importance when it comes to accessing further education courses, but that certainly isn't their only purpose.

Many employers will also be looking at GCSE grades when shortlisting candidates. They may even ask for certain grades in their job advertisements.

GCSEs and school-leavers

School-leavers who are looking for part-time work while they continue their studies (all 16-year-olds must be enrolled in some kind of education or training programme) may wonder if their employers will ask for their GCSE grades.

A typical 16-year-old probably won't have much work or volunteering experience, and therefore their GCSE grades will usually be the main information they will have on their CV.

And so even if an employer doesn’t ask for specific GCSE grades, your students should list them on their CVs.

Some administrative-type roles will require a certain level of competency in English and maths, and therefore employers may stipulate that applicants should hold pass grades in these subjects. 

Tom Browne, from AllAboutSchoolLeavers, a website that offers employment and apprenticeship advice to young people, says employers' requirements will vary enormously from post to post.

"Usually, GCSE grades will be slightly less important than what experience you have to offer," he says. "If you have relevant work experience, that will usually be more valuable." 

Older applicants and GCSEs

If an applicant is older and has obtained further qualifications, GCSE grades become less important as the higher qualifications take priority. 

However, there are certain careers, such as teaching and medicine, where GCSEs grades in English and maths are still required to enrol on a training course.

Ucas has lots of useful advice about the GCSE requirements for specific careers, such as medicine, architecture and education.

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