Education CommitteeFurther written evidence submitted by the British Chambers of Commerce following on from Oral Evidence given 29 November 2011

In order to validate the research findings of Skills for Business—More to Learn; BCC and local Chambers hosted a number of focus groups across the country where groups of around 12–20 employers met to discuss general skills issues as well as the findings of the research.

At one of the focus groups a commercial legal company employing over 200 people related their experiences of recruiting young people over recent years. They recruit a number of young people each year to their Apprenticeship programme. They invite applications and use GCSE A–C grades as a first sift. They then invite all qualifying people to sit an assessment test. The assessment test takes the form of an In-Tray exercise. Applicants are asked to receive and make a series of phone calls to perform a series of actions. They are then given a letter and asked to identify grammatical and spelling errors. Finally they are asked to complete a short arithmetical test. The company have used this test with minor tweaks for a number of years; they have reported a significant decline in the numbers of people passing this test in the last three to four years. No further information is available.

At another focus group elsewhere in the country a manufacturing/distribution company employing over 250 people also use their own assessment test when recruiting. Some new recruits are engaged to an Apprenticeship programme but not all. Again GCSE A–C grades are used as a first sift, the assessment test consists of a comprehension test which measures an ability to analyse information, grammar, spelling and sentence construction. There is also a arithmetic test. Again the company reports a decline in the pass rate amongst young people coming out of full time education. Interestingly the company use a hand/eye co-ordination test for applicants to the manufacturing line and pass rates remain stable.

January 2012

Prepared 2nd July 2012