Students could be missing out on job opportunities amid claims that NCEA report cards make employers' eyes glaze over.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association is calling for a "meaningful assessment of students' skills" because it says NCEA report cards are too long and confusing.
EMA general manager David Lowe said it was a clear-cut decision when employers were choosing between a young person with work experience and a former employer, and a student with only an NCEA report card.
"Students need all the help they can get getting into the workforce, and this isn't it. It makes employers' eyes glaze over."
The EMA wants information from schools along the lines of a "work readiness certificate", showing whether a student would turn up on time and whether they had basic reading, writing and maths skills.
"We're not criticising NCEA, we're simply saying the reports that come with it have too much information," Lowe said.
Two or three pages of credits were too much detail, especially when employers were often not sure what the credits were.
Secondary Schools Principals' Association president Tom Parsons said the EMA's proposal was nonsense, as employers already received all the information they needed.
"There's already school reports and testimonials available, and plenty of principals answer their phones quite often for personal references."
He said two out of five current students would probably end up in jobs that did not exist yet, and that made it impossible for schools to write specific skills reports for every student.
"This is clearly an employment and recruiting issue for these employers, not a school issue."
Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Raewyn Bleakley said NCEA was a difficult area for employers to navigate.
"Not having a clear understanding of what the NCEA results actually mean in the workplace can deter employers from taking a chance on a young person."
Ministry of Education student achievement deputy secretary Rowena Phair said a wide range of organisations, including employers, were consulted in during NCEA's development.
"Students who have achieved an NCEA qualification have demonstrated an ability to study, persevere, concentrate and take responsibility for their learning - attributes valued in the workplace."
- The Dominion Post