Qualities exams cannot reveal

9th April 2004 at 01:00
I was delighted to read your article on the growth of psychometric testing ("Multiple choice of personalities", TES, March 26) which highlighted how companies are increasingly ignoring academic qualifications in recruiting staff.

As an employer I am proud that my company has never required any qualification in any job we have recruited for over the past 15 years.

Our principle is "hire for attitude, train for skill". We look for ability to work in a team, social skills, emotional intelligence, judgment in real-life situations. I am not aware of any qualification that recognises or even encourages these aspects. Instead they seem to focus on individual achievement and one narrow aspect of intelligence.

Don't get me wrong. I think teachers do a fantastic job and, going into school as a governor, I am continually impressed by their dedication.

However, I have never understood the point of a qualifications system that recognises only one of our many intelligences and that simply does not prepare people for the skills needed in society.

Your article implies it is a desire to recruit from the middle class that is driving employers away from academic qualification. However, I would argue the reverse. To insist on a graduate in any job (except where a specific skill is required, like law or engineering) is profoundly discriminatory. You might as well announce that you would rather not employ too many people who were working class, disabled or Afro-Caribbean. All of those groups are massively under-represented in our universities.

I do not believe the role of school should be to train children in vocational skills. But I do worry that the qualification system, through school and higher education, is solely focused on rewarding the skills needed by the small minority who will do academic research.

Henry Stewart Chief executive Happy Computers Employer of the Year (Parents at Work 2003) 40 Adler Street, London, E1

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