The good news is that 11.8% more students took computing in 2018 compared to the year before. The bad news is that 24% fewer students took ICT. There was a modest drop in the number who took maths.
That could be a problem, says Eleanor Bradley, COO of Nominet. “The total number studying both Computing and ICT as subjects have actually decreased with around 9,000 fewer young people taking either course this year than in 2017,” she said. Presumably, she was crossing her fingers as she added: “Hopefully this isn’t the start of a downward trend, as skills in these areas are vital for the future.”
The figures also show that the disparity between boys and girls taking these subjects shows no sign of coming to an end.
On the subject of gender diversity, Ms Bradley said: “We don’t want a situation in which we lock out half the talent pool from vital technology-related career paths before they’ve given them proper consideration.”
These sentiments were echoed by Jill Morris, Senior HR Business Partner UK&I, Hitachi Vantara, who warned that “we don’t want a situation in which we lock out half the talent pool from vital technology-related career paths before they’ve given them proper consideration.”
She added: “In light of today’s GCSE results and last week’s A-level results, which reveal that a gender gap continues to persist, it’s clear there is an urgent need to tackle the UK skills gap to ensure there is positive momentum. I’m hopeful 2019 can be the year we finally achieve equality in STEM.2.”
The question persists, however, how relevant are the specific subjects chosen at GCSE to a future career in IT or senior management?
According to Which University, computing, further maths, physics, philosophy and ICT are the most relevant A-levels to a degree in computer science. Not that all CTOs studied computer science at university, but it’s a popular subject with this profession.
As Matt Weston, Managing Director at Robert Half UK said: “As new technologies, such as automation and AI, continue to enter the workforce, STEM subjects represent a huge career opportunity.
“However, for employers, this isn’t the solution to the war for talent and the ever-expanding skills gap. Many students taking STEM subjects go on to work outside the field, suggesting more must be done to make this career an attractive option long-term.
“In the coming years, the only thing that will remain constant is the pace of change. This is a crucial lesson for all students and workers alike. They must react by adopting a culture of lifelong learning, being resilient and demonstrating the flexibility to learn new skills.”
Nominations are now open for the Women in IT Awards Ireland and Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley. Nominate yourself, a colleague or someone in your network now! The Women in IT Awards Series – organised by Information Age – aims to tackle this issue and redress the gender imbalance, by showcasing the achievements of women in the sector and identifying new role models