Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry has criticised the education system for failing to provide youngsters with employable skills.
The Chamber said many of the 250,000 teenagers receiving their A-level results today would not possess the skills employers needed.
Too many students were taking 'soft' options such as media studies and dance instead of science and technology subjects, it said.
“In Birmingham, businesses constantly say that a young person’s employability skills are of paramount importance,” said the BCI in a statement.
The criticism came on the day that unemployment in the region soared 6.3 per cent to 168,000, a rise of 2,000. The Chamber said a survey of its members had shown businesses were looking for key employability skills in potential employees as well as academic qualifications.
“Employers want skills such as communication, team working and problem solving, and personal attributes like attitude and flexibility,” it said.
Policy adviser Kiran Virk said these skills were not always readily identifiable from someone who had achieved an ‘A’ in A-level geography.
“Students who can demonstrate these types of skills through experience in a working environment will have a real advantage when they are looking for employment,” he said. “In recent years there has been an increase in ‘soft option’ A-levels such as media studies, dance, and sports, which our members believe have no relevance in the work environment.
“Worryingly, there has been a decline in the take-up of subjects such as science and languages – the subjects that are vital to the future skills set of the workforce and success in an ever-globalising economy,” he added.
It said while the rates of achievements in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – at A-levels were rising in the region, they still lagged behind national trends and in some subjects the gap was significant and widening.