We recently Tweeted to see if there was any research that correlated life skills (such as PLTS), thinking skills (such as Bloom’s taxonomy) and GCSE courses. 

Of all the responses we received this, from Independent Thinking Associate and former careers advisor David Hodgson, is the only one (so far):

Your question about relevance of GCSE to work reminded me of research I did way back when I was a fresh-faced careers adviser in Durham.

Teenagers would often ask which subjects were valued most by employers so I thought I’d ask. 

I interviewed about 30 local employers that recruited school leavers after GCSE, (hard to find 30 now) and asked what they looked for. The vast majority couldn’t care less about GCSEs (except basic maths and English). A paper round was valued more! (demonstrating willingness to turn up on time ,work hard etc) They were keen on the PLTS stuff (obviously using different jargon) as you alluded to in your Tweet. 

A common statement was they looked for young people with a glint in their eye, a spark. 

My conclusion was GCSEs had nothing to do with work. They are simply preparing kids for further education.

I did meet some awful employers that thought the whole purpose of education was to supply them with a supply of compliant low cost labour educated enough to work for them but not enough to leave and set up as a competitor. It was at those times I thought the curriculum should be crammed full of socialism and poetry to inspire kids avoid low pay low skill jobs. 

So, what should GCSEs be for? Not just for work and employers. I think we should ask kids. The nearest I got was asking what they wanted from life and their top four answers were:

1 – To be happy
2 – To be confident
3 – To feel like they made the best of whatever potential they have 
4 – and to be able to chat up people they fancy better. 

Surely those for are a recipe for a rather full life.