The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has today criticised the government's plans to replace the A-level system with academic diplomas as an "unnecessary distraction".
The business organisation claimed the new-style qualifications were "undermining the integrity" of the traditional academic subjects.
CBI director general, Richard Lambert, claimed the diplomas could lead to fewer school children studying crucial subjects such as science and maths to a high standard.
A statement urged the government to reconsider "its over-ambitious plans for a new wave of academic diplomas".
Instead, Gordon Brown's government should "concentrate on making sure GCSEs and A-levels give young people the skills and knowledge to succeed", the CBI said.
"Employers are worried about the more recent proposals in the government's diploma strategy to introduce a new range of academic diplomas in humanities, languages and sciences," the statement continued.
"CBI members fear they would not have any greater value to young people or to employers than the existing GCSEs or A-levels, and would instead be an unnecessary distraction."
Minister for schools and learners Jim Knight said: "I am surprised at this negative response from the CBI on our three subject-based diplomas, given that Richard Lambert shared the platform with Ed Balls and myself when we launched them last October.
"The CBI were also represented on the expert group which approved our qualifications strategy."
The Conservatives, however, welcomed the criticism of the diploma system.
Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove said: "By pushing ahead with plans for academic diplomas the government risks undermining the existing diplomas and it threatens the future of GCSEs and A-levels."