Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Everybody Has a*s - Employers Want Character'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Everybody Has a*s - Employers Want Character'

Article excerpt

Head of CBI urges schools to focus on holistic development

Employers are more interested in whether young people have participated in local theatre or raised money for charity than they are in exam grades, according to the head of the CBI.

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.

"A really good teacher develops these things in the classroom while teaching English literature," he added. "I learned more about character by reading To Kill A Mockingbird than anything else. And I still think Atticus Finch is a terrific guy."

Mr Cridland's emphasis on character chimes with recent comments from education secretary Nicky Morgan and her opposite number, Labour's Tristram Hunt. By establishing the Character Awards this year, Ms Morgan has even gone so far as to offer schools cash prizes for promoting and instilling character. …

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