IT A-Level Numbers Continue to Decline

Fewer students opted to take technology subjects at A-level this year, continuing the decline. Industry experts in response have called on schools to urgently improve computer teaching.

4,002 students sat the computing A-level this year, down from 4,065 in 2010 and 4,710 in 2009. Since 2008, when over 5,000 students took Computing A-level, there has been a 20 per cent drop-off for the course.

The IT industry has been working hard to attract more women into IT careers, yet the decrease this year was almost solely due to fewer female students taking the course.

Even the more popular ICT A-level wasn't immune to a drop. However, more female students sat this compared to 2010.

While tech subjects are suffering in popularity, other courses are seeing increased student numbers with a 13,500 increase in the number of A-levels taken this year.

Matthew Poyiadgi, European vice president of IT trade association CompTIA, laid some of the blame on schools for the lack of interest in technology subjects among the younger generation.

"This all starts with education, and IT education in most secondary schools is not interesting enough and not focused enough," he said.

"Too many 16 to 18 year olds think of IT as just sitting in a basement on a computer. We need to change this perception with the people who are currently making big career decisions."

Poyiadgi also made an interesting point about the placement of Word and Excel in the school curriculum.

"The basics of Word and Excel (or similar programs) are important and should be a part of every subject, but they are not the core of IT," he said.

"Teach real life IT skills, leave Word and Excel to English and maths. If we show students they can build and take apart computers, set up networks, and use IT in ways that is useful to them, I am confident we will see a lot more interest in the subject."

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