The value of exams

4th August 2017 at 00:00
The relationship between qualifications and career success isn’t as straightforward as one might think, new reports show

As we approach exam results season, brace yourself for plenty of soul-searching about the value of qualifications.

While the Department for Education’s priority has been the reformed A levels, colleges have had other issues to deal with. Not least, money. This is one reason why many have been forced to ditch subjects, as the Association of Colleges’ survey of principals, in partnership with Tes, reveals.

But other reports this week show the relationship between qualifications and career success is complex. The Impetus-PEF youth jobs index highlights that the lower the level of qualification, the more likely it is an individual will spend a long period Neet (not in education, employment or training). Just 10 per cent of people with a level 4 spend six months or more Neet, compared with 26 per cent of people with lower than level 2.

Meanwhile, the IPPR thinktank says that 5.1 million Britons are, effectively, too educated for their jobs. This is a useful reminder that the value of education is not just economic. As the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association’s CEO, Bill Watkin, points out, turning educational institutions into “exam factories” benefits no one.

@stephenexley

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