Only 14 per cent of employers turn to candidates' exam results when filling jobs, according to a report from England's qualifications watchdog.
The research, commissioned by Ofqual, suggests large numbers of teachers, pupils and employers lack confidence in the exams system. Less than 18 per cent of pupils regarded their experience of the system as "acceptable". And more than half (54 per cent) thought doing exams was "unreasonably stressful".
The study reveals that nearly two-thirds of employers use their own tests to assess job candidates' skills. And just 14 per cent of employers agreed with the statement: "We select candidates for interview primarily based on their exam results."
Asked if they had confidence in the national exam system, only 39 per cent of employers and 42 per cent of pupils said yes. Teachers were more positive but support was still far from overwhelming, with 62 per cent agreeing they had confidence in the system.
The publication of the report came as Ofqual set out details of its inquiry into the incomplete marking of Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) GCSE, AS and A-level papers this summer which resulted in 615 candidates receiving lower grades than they should have.
The regulator will seek to identify "precisely what went wrong", with initial findings expected by mid December.
This week's Ofqual report found that significant minorities of teachers, pupils and employers believed that large percentages of exam candidates had GCSE grades that did not reflect their ability. Fears were highest in English, where more than a third of employers surveyed thought at least 30 per cent of candidates had unreflective grades, with 22 per cent believing that more than half of pupils had the wrong grade.
Nearly a third of teachers thought at least a fifth of pupils had the wrong English GCSE grade.
AQA chief executive Andrew Hall profile, pages 18-19.