computer, screens, phoneThis year’s GCSE results have shown a surprising drop in the number of pupils sitting for a qualification in the subjects of computing or ICT.

These numbers are surprising. Not only was there a drop of more than 40,000 of pupils taking an IT exam, but the boys outnumbered the girls by more than three to one as well:

This year, of the 89,542 students that studied for a computing GCSE, male entries totalled 68,965 while 20,577 female pupils sat the same exams. Five years ago, females made up as many as 40 per cent of entries, today that figure is significantly lower.

What has caused the decline?

According to an annual study by the University of Roehampton, schools have not only cut back on the hours spent teaching the subject, but that the fall in exam passes follows the phasing out of the ICT GCSE from the national curriculum in England.

Computing courses, although no longer compulsory, have become much more rigorous in an attempt to upgrade the nation’s digital skills. However, many schools are struggling to find the teachers needed to tackle this difficult course and therefore pupils are becoming aware that a good grade won’t be easy to achieve.

With more and more employees looking to recruit people with a wider range of tech skills, these GCSE figures are disappointing to see.

Agata Nowakowska of Skillsoft, a company that provides workplace e-learning courses, adds:

“The digital skills gap in industry is fast expanding and already at a level that can’t be filled quickly enough. We need to take action now to turn this around.”

Rebecca George OBE, Vice Chair and UK Public Sector Leader at Deloitte, said on the subject:

“Equipping young people with good quality and relevant computing and IT skills provides a pathway to social mobility. Too few teenagers realise how many and varied IT job opportunities there are, and the vital contribution that IT makes to the wider economy.”

Will the subject become more popular in this next school year? We certainly hope so.