Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

High Achievers Need Encouraging to Stay; A-Level Results Business Leaders Call for Firms to Capture Young Talent for Benefit of the Region's Economic Growth

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

High Achievers Need Encouraging to Stay; A-Level Results Business Leaders Call for Firms to Capture Young Talent for Benefit of the Region's Economic Growth

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Whitfield

THE region's best ever A-level results should be used as the catalyst to grow the North-East's economy, business leaders said last night.

As thousands of teenagers picked up results yesterday, firms in the region were challenged to capture the talented young people rather than allowing them to take their skills elsewhere.

The call, from the North-East Chamber of Commerce, came as pass rates in some parts of the region neared 100%.

And though there were the now-traditional calls from some quarters for the exam system to be reformed, teachers were quick to highlight the hard work that has gone into yesterday's high grades.

Ross Smith, head of policy at the North-East Chamber of Commerce, said: "These candidates are the brightest talent in our region and are the future of the North-East, they deserve congratulations on these fantastic results.

"NECC hopes these school leavers recognise the fantastic opportunities that exist in universities and companies from all sectors in the North-East. It is incumbent on local businesses to capture that talent and to make the most of it as we look to grow our regional economy further."

Mr Smith was backed by Sarah Green, regional director of the CBI, though she raised concerns at a growing shortage of scientists and engineers.

She said: "Employers congratulate students and their teachers on today's results. A-levels are highly rated by firms as an indicator of ability and commitment, and they are the gateway to the graduate skills that employers are crying out for.

"Businesses are far more worried about the low numbers studying chemistry, physics and maths than they are about the grade inflation debate. We are facing a growing skills shortage in these areas that has serious implications for the future health of our economy."

After record scores last year, Newcastle saw its pass rate fall slightly to 95.2% - though the city highlighted the fact that more young people than ever were staying on to take A-levels - and South Tyneside's fell slightly to 96.6%.

Provisional figures show Gateshead's pass rate rising to 99.5%, while Sunderland's rose to 95%. …

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