The CBI’s ‘absurd’ call for ‘work-ready’ pupils must be attacked, says exam board director

The TES is reporting claims that employer groups such as the CBI should be “attacked” for calling for young people to be “work ready” by the time they leave school.

Tim Oates, director of research at exam group Cambridge Assessment, warned against business leaders using their influence to make “absurd” claims about how education should work in this country.

“The notion that kids should be ‘work ready’ from school, and the constant champing of the CBI of this absurd proposition really needs to be attacked by all of us,” Mr Oates said.

And he added: “It is an absurd attack on the function of general education, it puts education in quite the wrong role, and it puts unnatural expectations on young people.”

Mr Oates was speaking at a joint seminar of the Business, Innovation and Skills and Education select committees in Westminster…

Mr Oates’ claims led Rod Bristow, president of core markets at Pearson, to challenge Mr Oates from the audience, stating that the CBI was more concerned about “general skills” possessed by young people.

“Rather than sector-specific skills, the CBI wants harder-edge skills such as numeracy and literacy. But it also wants the softer skills, like leadership, communication and, increasingly, character traits such as humility, integrity etc,” Mr Bristow said.

“Tim may dismiss them, but if you read what employers are asking for it’s that, and so too are students and parents…”

More at: The CBI’s ‘absurd’ call for ‘work-ready’ pupils must be attacked, says exam board director


Tim Oates is very dismissive of the calls from employers for the kinds of skills they feel young people need, but is he right to be?

Do we not increase the life chances of young people if we are able to align their development with employment opportunities?

And who exactly should we listen to when deciding the priorities for education?


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Categories: Employment and Policy.


  1. The_Data_Adonis

    SchoolsImprove based on local survey results many employers expected leavers to be Microsoft office proficient day one. Good ICT skills

  2. coleman_21

    .SchoolsImprove Rod Bristow is right!They need to ‘ready’ to learn a skill just as they need to be ‘ready’ for classroom learning #attitude

  3. coleman_21

    .SchoolsImprove CBItweets Rod Bristow is right, it doesn’t literally mean ‘work ready’ it means right mindset to learn #skills

  4. coleman_21

    .SchoolsImprove too many in and around education simply do not understand the workplace – TIPS scheme helps sciencelearning

  5. brighton118

    SchoolsImprove-Having a postive attitude,working in a team,willingness to try, comms.These are all skills that are developed in schools.

  6. brighton118

    SchoolsImprove- I have worked both in business & schools.Effective schools develop these skills; positive wex & ed/ bus links help too.

  7. Tim Oates was present at the Politics in Education Summit on Monday.  He would have heard Neil Carberry of the CBI saying employers did NOT want ‘automatons’ but young people with generic skills and depth of understanding.  They wanted artists as well as scientists.  Education, he said, was NOT polarised between education for employment and education for personal development.  Both were needed.
    In the long term, Carberry said, GCSEs should be dumped in favour of graduation at 18 via multiple routes including work experience.
    This would upset exam boards which make a lot of money from exams at 16.  Tim Oates works for Cambridge Assessment.  Could this explain his antipathy to the CBI?

  8. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove There is no way that schools can prepare every student for every potential job; businesses have to take some responsibility

  9. diasporahighsch

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove We’re doing that through our mentors who are all from the World of Work. Arrangements made one year ahead.

  10. diasporahighsch

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove Was asked by one mentor, “Why don’t all schools do this, especially when graduates cannot find jobs?”

  11. MatthewRHead

    SchoolsImprove we need 2 reject false dichotomy between educators & employers. Their objectives r the same but their languages differ 1/2

  12. MatthewRHead

    SchoolsImprove we need 2 reject false dichotomy between educators & employers. Their objectives r the same but their languages differ 1/2

  13. MatthewRHead

    SchoolsImprove both seek rounded individuals with core knowledge & interpersonal skills inspired & equipped 2 follow their aspirations. 2/2

  14. MatthewRHead

    SchoolsImprove educators & employers infer different things from the term ‘work ready’ employers do not want specialism in school leavers

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