Kathryn Hopkins reported in The Times last week that Confederation of British Industry chief John Cridland has called for the scrapping of GCSEs. He states that GCSEs “fail to produce the type of people that employers want to hire”, and that the exams do not “equip pupils with the right skills” for a successful career. Cridland calls for strong emphasis on “the basics” at primary school, with high school then providing a personalised menu of education, designed to assist pupils to achieve their full potential.
We at Kloodle believe that the business world’s requirements has made a seismic shift from what the education system was designed for. Sir Ken Robinson vocalises it best in his now legendary TED talk. He states that education was created to serve the business and society of ( can we put a quote in here). Process-driven people who were able to fit into an industrial model of education not one tailored for specific requirements. These people were scientifically and mathematically literate (an attribute of equal importance nowadays), able to do as they were told, and able to follow process effectively and efficiently. Our education system provided these people, placing heavy emphasis on the sciences, maths and english, and also on discipline and measurement of attainment. Companies placed major importance on academic achievement, to the neglect of the ‘softer’ skills of personality.
Yet despite alluding to key academic skills and an ability to learn, academic qualifications simply aren’t ‘fit for purpose’ for an employee in the modern business-world. Soft skills are fast becoming the most important aspect for an employer when deciding which candidate is right for the job. The CBI, who are the voice for business and employers, state: –
“In an increasingly competitive employment market, employers are looking beyond simple academic achievement when considering applicants for a job or internship”
The degree – once a hallmark of excellence and a sure-fire way of attaining a great career – is now merely the entry requirement. It is no longer the differentiator, it is the norm. What else can you offer me, young graduate? Your 2:1 is in line with a vast array of your peers, who are all competing for the same job. How do you differentiate? Soft skills is the way.
Not only are soft skills a differentiator between potential candidates, they are often far more indicative of success in a lot of roles expected to be filled by graduates. People who can communicate effectively, network prodigiously, fit into any team, write with allure, possess the motivation of an olympic athlete, plough forward regardless with resilience, and learn on the fly will be the people who succeed. You can be as clever as you like in Further Maths, but if you cannot express your ideas and work with others, you will be assigned to the lower rungs of corporate-dom for the rest of your existence.
The development of soft skills should therefore enter a young person’s consciousness at a much earlier stage. Great emphasis should be placed upon these skills within our education system. No longer should we strive to judge attainment by success in a Victorian examination system. In an age where we can rank web pages with such frightening sophistication, we should possess better methods of judging a young person’s abilities and attributes – in short, the full rounding of their personality and what they can offer the work force.
This tenet is our motivation at Kloodle. We want evidencing skill and ability to become engrained in the national psyche. We believe that GCSEs and imposters of their ilk concentrate on what young people CAN’T do. We believe that you cannot shoehorn a square peg into a round hole, and that education should be a process to elucidate the talents of a young person, not a quest to uncover their deficiencies. By evidencing skills through blogs, photos, videos, documents and various other creative means, Kloodle allows a young person to show off what they are good at and what they enjoy doing.
No longer is a young person defined by a letter in the alphabet; they suddenly become a living, breathing personality, fully visualised in colour and dynamism through their Kloodle profile. Employers and university admissions tutors can now see that a person possesses great communication skills, demonstrated through a video of a speech in a school assembly. They can get a flavour of a person’s interests through the many photos they post of them at horse riding, playing hockey, volunteering or doing the Duke of Edinburgh award. Sure, they can see letters if they so desire in the education history section, but this is merely one facet of a much more interesting representation of a young person’s ability.
And how much more positive would your school experience have been if you knew your teacher was there to help you to discover your innate talent and show it off to the world?