The lowest A level results in years: Should employees be valuing exam results?

Last week saw many students across the UK disappointed with their A level results, having experienced what is said to be a harsh readjustment of grades, after the inflated teacher grades delivered post the pandemic. With so many young people not only disheartened by their grades and often unable to continue with further studies, it also begs the question as to whether our education system’s method of assessment is outdated.

There are varying opinions when it comes to exam results. Some people swear they are clear indicators of attainment and perhaps this is true for some subjects. However, when looking from the perspective of the hospitality industry, often it is the individuals who are successful in this industry are the ones who show non-academic traits. Where personability, teamwork and initiative are so valued, perhaps a system that does not focus completely on exam grades in secondary school and university should be implemented.

Issues can arise though, when poor exam results act as a limiting factor for young people to continue with education and training. We have all experienced disappointment and poor results, so it is perhaps more pressing we support young people in finding areas for success, rather than limiting their prospects and crushing self-belief in what can be incredibly formative years.

Scholarships and internships are growing in popularity but still within the hospitality industry we are lacking a range of options for young people who have perhaps not succeeded in formal education but who show passion, drive, and flare for the entrepreneurial and social nature of this industry.

If assessments are going to create stress for students, the least that we can hope for within our system is that they are being measured in ways which mirror skills needed in the workplace. Otherwise, why are we measuring intellect in very traditional subjects which increasingly is lacking relevance to the modern world of work?

The landscape of learning has completely changed since Covid 19 yet our methods of assessment, at both school level and university level, don’t necessarily reflect this evolution.

Our schooling system lives in fear of the advancement and the future impact of AI but perhaps this is an opportunity to improve learning and study skills, rather than assuming that these new developments will be used by students to cheat the system. No longer is there a need for young people to memorise huge amounts of information when we have access to the internet and AI, so why are we seeing our education system continuing to implement archaic assessment methods which require students to memorise and regurgitate, under test conditions, unnecessary information.

This week on Thursday 24 August this year’s GCSE results will be published. Is this yet another example of a missed opportunity to reward initiative and flair in young people with a series of disheartening, adjusted grades from formal exams when the real opportunity was to release a cohort of young learners onto the job market, having experienced an innovative education system with a variety of assessments? Could young people have been facing a world of possibility and opportunity with a reinvigorated education system that fostered a love of learning and inspires them to see the world of work as a positive next step in their life journey?

Written by Lexie Cook, EP Business in Hospitality