As the latest batch of A-level and GCSE results await release, David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, described the continuing frustration businesses feel about youth skills in the UK:

“The government still has not grasped the nettle on youth skills. We will no doubt hear that grades have yet again improved and that more young people than ever are taking exams. But the overwhelming majority of businesses are exasperated with the quality of recruits they interview from secondary schools and colleges.”

Nearly 80pc of the firms the BCC has talked to say that young people employed straight from school with A-levels are ill-equipped for the world of work.

Mr Frost said: “There is a feeling within the business community that A-levels are not equipping young people with the skills they need and, with the annual debate on grade inflation, that A-levels are getting easier. The fact is that the proportion of young people scoring an A has almost doubled, increasing from less than 12% in 1991 to nearly 23% last year.

“Businesses are fed up with having to teach literacy and numeracy skills to new recruits and deplore the decline in young people taking science subjects and languages. They want meaningful clarification on what grades really mean and a supply of young people with a real understanding of what will be expected of them in the workplace.

“The UK is sitting on a skills time bomb. We do tomorrow’s workers no favours by failing to equip them for the world of work and are handicapping our prospects for future productivity and competitiveness. It’s time the Government solved this problem.”