What the employers say;After GCSE
A SPOKESMAN for the RAF careers service said: "There are a lot of trades which we offer and they don't all require GCSE passes. We are looking for the right sort of people and when we find them we are prepared to train them up.
"There are plenty of opportunities once you have joined the RAF and it is very much up to the individual to make the most of what we have to offer. You need to be prepared to put in the hard work and we are looking for people who can offer a long-term commitment.
"Officer training requires A- levels and if people want to apply for a commission during their career then they will need a minimum of five GCSEs grades A-C.
"People have to be physically fit and of course pilots, who are commissioned officers, must have perfect sight."
Rover Group Ltd remains a big employer, despite having been taken over by the German car giant BMW. Potential production workers should have a good basic GCSE education, to include English and maths.
A company spokesman said: "Some people think this sort of job is a question of bringing your body to work and leaving your brain at the gate.
"But we need people to use their brains. We want them to make suggestions about how things can be done better and more cheaply. And we want them to have a positive attitude to work."
The National Association of Estate Agents does set minimum qualifications and says 16-year-olds who are prepared to do menial tasks will be given the opportunity to grow into the profession as they mature.
NAEA chief executive High Dunsmore-Hardy said: "We would look at 16-year olds.
"They would be required to do some quite menial tasks and in the process they would get an idea of what the business is about.
"If people want to take A-levels I would say English or other subjects which help their communication skills would be good.
"Most of all, we are looking for people that the public will feel confident dealing with, and people who are confident."