Following the revelation that the number of pupils scoring at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, fell this year, the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) has called on the government to set new targets to boost attainment.
Although 58.6 per cent of pupils in England achieved five A*-Cs in their end of school exams, the manufacturers' organisation wants to see at least 65 per cent of students achieving this distinction.
Verity O'Keefe, employment and skills adviser at EEF, said: "A lack of attainment in key subjects is still restricting firms' ability to fill vacancies.
"Many employers use similar benchmarks when recruiting young people, with three-quarters of manufacturers prioritising attainment in maths, English and the sciences when recruiting apprentices."
However, with more than four in five pupils (82.5 per cent) gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C across all subjects, up two percentage points on last year, the drop in performance that is registered when the core subjects are included will fuel suspicion that the summer marking fiasco is to blame.
This saw pupils who sat their exams in the summer marked more harshly than those who took tests in January.
A spokesman for the Department for Education told the Telegraph: "Ofqual is continuing to look into the grading of GCSE English and, in particular, at why some schools, but not others, got the results they expected. It will publish its final report in the next few weeks."
As well as being of interest to employers, the number of pupils achieving five 'good' GCSEs is of vital importance to those in education jobs, as they must ensure that their schools meet the government's 40 per cent 'floor target'.
Establishments that fail to meet this expectation are faced with either the prospect of closure or being turned into academies.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels