SCHOOL leavers should be required to meet minimum standards to ensure they are ready for the workforce, a business peak body has declared.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry director of employment, education and training Jenny Lambert said the business community was concerned about figures that showed Australian students falling behind those in other nations.
The figures were released by the Program for International Student Assessment.
"The latest PISA results, which saw Australia's ranking fall across all major testing areas, is of great concern to Australian industry and for our nation's future productivity and prosperity," Ms Lambert said.
"Clearly many students are falling through the cracks and entering the workforce without the skills they need to perform effectively in the workplace.
"The PISA results show that despite a significant investment in education over the past decade, standards have fallen both in relative and absolute terms.
"This issue needs to be part of the discussion currently taking place on school education."
Ms Lambert said state governments should follow the lead of Western Australia and implement minimum requirements to be met by all school leavers, including those who opted out before Year 12.
"Although students cannot be forced to stay at school past the leaving age, a commitment to minimum standards ensures that there is a systematic approach from primary school until when they leave to regularly test students and take action," she said.
"This will address the gaps created by, for example, NAPLAN being primarily a school benchmark, with students who miss the tests needing to be given alternative testing. Australia needs to ensure each student's needs are addressed and school leavers are prepared for the world of work and to make an active contribution to society."