‘Everybody has A*s – employers want character’

Interviewed by the TES, the head of the CBI has said employers are more interested in whether young people have participated in local theatre or raised money for charity than they are in exam grades…

John Cridland, director general of the business lobbying organisation, believes schools should be doing more to develop character. He said that his members were likely to look at all elements of a candidate’s CV, rather than merely their qualifications, because “everybody has A*s”.

In an interview with TES, the business leader also called for Ofsted to judge schools on the holistic development of pupils, claiming that the inspectorate should focus less on the “metrics” and more on “whole education”.

“I am genuine in saying my experience in talking with employers is that what they really want is enthusiasm and creativity and passion,” Mr Cridland said. “They want academic rigour as well. But the things on the CV: what have you done in the local theatre club? What have you done in the local sports club? What have you done to put something back into the local community? What have you raised for charity? [These] are just as important to employers, because frankly everybody has A*s.

“You differentiate by character. Character attributes and behaviours are equally as important as qualifications. Most employers do not recruit on subject or qualification unless you need a particular scientist for a particular research job…They look for somebody that stands out from the crowd.”

But Mr Cridland stopped short of saying that character could be taught as a discrete lesson, stating that employers were “suspicious” of bolt-on subjects…

More at: ‘Everybody has A*s – employers want character’


Not sure about everyone having A*s but interesting insight into the idea of employers differentiating by character, which I suspect is often very true. Your reactions? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Nobody will disagree but character is formed by picking oneself up after a fall & the fall is not allowed in current UK edu

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove You cannot have character without the ability to fail. Judgements on schools severe if you try to instil character

  3. diankenny

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove it certainly isn’t we have a sterilised education system that doesn’t foster individualism

  4. wordbadger

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove agree with your sentiment about priorities in education but character and exam success not mutually exclusive

  5. For a start, everyone doesn’t have A*s.  And schools have been offering these activities for decades – stuff like DoE Award, competitive sport, drama productions etc.  Kids also get involved in non-school activities such as Army cadets, Guides, Scouts, theatrical/dance groups etc.

    That said, kids should do these things because they enjoy them not just because they’ll look good on a CV.

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