Business leaders are calling for more of the brightest teenagers to be channelled into higher education via traditional GCSE qualifications and A-levels.
The comments have been made by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) as part of a consultation exercise by the Government, aimed at building stronger links between businesses and universities.
Susan Anderson, the CBI's director of human resources policy, said: "Aiming for more people with higher-level skills in the workplace is the right response to an ever more competitive global economy.
"We're pleased that the Government is considering financial incentives for young people to study science and technology subjects at school and university.
"But we're disappointed that the brightest students are not to be automatically opted into triple science GCSE, which is the best preparation for A-level and beyond." She said the opportunity to do foundation degrees, increasingly provided by FE colleges, was a positive development.
A report, called Taking Stock, just published by the CBI and Edexcel, the awarding body, stated that "the 32 per cent of jobs currently requiring degree-level education is likely to grow as the UK continues to move towards an economy built on value-added services, high-tech and knowledge- based firms".
In a criticism of the education system generally, John Cridland, the CBI deputy director general, said: "A worrying number of employers have little confidence they will be able to plug their skills gaps.
"In our new stocktake of the nation's skills, too many firms also say poor basic skills are hampering customers' service and acting as a drag on their businesses' performance."
The report said employers would like more opportunities to provide on-the- job training through the apprenticeships system, and they would like to see this expanding beyond the traditional vocational areas where it is already strong, such as construction and engineering.
Leading article, page 4.