The Royal Society has called for A-levels to be scrapped and replaced with a baccalaureate system that requires youngsters to study maths and science up to the age of 18.
According to a new report published by the society, too many people in the UK are "mathematically and scientifically illiterate", and this could be damaging economic performance.
It claims one million more science, technology and engineering professionals will be needed by 2020, but the UK is unlikely to meet the target.
Replacing A-levels with a baccalaureate system would help to raise standards, the report's authors claim, while people who choose to specialise in arts and humanities subjects would be kept engaged in science and maths subjects.
The report also says the status of those in teaching jobs needs to be raised - all teachers should have an appropriate qualification or be working towards one.
Report co-author Dame Alison Peacock, head of the Wroxham School in Hertfordshire, told the BBC: "Our country's future prosperity rests in teachers' ability to inspire and guide our young people, yet we don't currently adequately recognise or reward them."
Posted by Tim Colman