Schools need to be doing more to prepare students with skills for their future careers, rather than emphasizing grades, according to a study commissioned by Kingsley Leadership Academy. Surveying over 200 C-suite staff, the research shed light on the qualities business pros are looking for in recent graduates.

While high schools and colleges tend to focus on the importance of grades and GPAs, the study found that only 12% of hiring teams value grades when looking for a new employee. Most large companies only look at grades to see where a candidate’s expertise lies, or if they are hiring for a high-level leadership position, said the report.

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While only two out of the 14 industries surveyed said they consider grade scores during the hiring process, companies did say they were more concerned with the qualities that make up a candidate. Over half of manufacturing companies and professional services firms listed leadership as the highest valued skill. Additionally, 60% of respondents selected work ethic as the most important skill, and 45% chose teamwork, according to the survey.

The survey respondents pointed to schools to come up with solutions, and said that primary and secondary education should be giving students the skills they need to succeed in their future careers. Instead of placing importance on grades, institutions should instead be helping students find and pursue their individual interests, said the report.

“Over 80 per cent of large companies recognise that developing qualities of a future leader is an essential part of a child’s education,” leadership thought leader Arthur Carmazzi said in a press release. “In many ways, current school systems are outdated and not preparing children to succeed in this way; encouragingly, however, this research highlights what potential employers are looking for, and in doing so, identifies the areas where schools could be doing more to prepare children for a successful career and future.”

If leadership skills, work ethic, and teamwork can begin developing in the classroom, then candidates will be much more prepared to conquer the working world. Employment after graduation is a widespread problem for recent grads, but the process can run smoother if students are given the tools necessary to succeed.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Grades aren’t nearly as important in the hiring process as leadership, work ethic, and teamwork, according to a recent report.
  • If schools focused less on GPA and more on these skills, candidates will be much more prepared for and successful in the working world, which is beneficial for candidate and companies alike.