A-level results highlight UK's IT skills gap


A-level results highlight UK's IT skills gap

Jenny Williams

With this year's A-level results due tomorrow, experts have warned of a "dreadful state of affairs", with the number of people opting for IT courses falling as the industry's demand for staff rises.

The number of students gaining A-level ICT qualifications tomorrow is not expected to show significant improvement from recent years.

"The number of students taking computing A-level is at an historic low of around 4,000, compared with around 13,000 in 2001. This is a dreadful state of affairs, industry is crying out for experienced IT professionals, and A-level computing is one of the key stepping stones into our profession," said Bill Mitchell, executive director of BCS Academy of Computing.

Karen Price, CEO of sector skills council E-Skills UK, confirmed that more students are needed to fill future IT roles and provide key skills. "The IT professional workforce is forecast to grow at four times the average for the UK and will need over 500,000 people to enter it over the next five years," she said.

"The next generation of IT professionals has a huge role to play in terms of UK competitiveness. We would encourage young people looking at their future options to consider a career in this diverse and fast-paced sector."

Although more students are needed, Andrew Tuson, course director and assistant dean for student recruitment at City University, believes it is important to secure higher quality candidates and provide a variety of pathways into IT roles. "After discussions with lots of CIOs, skills at all levels are needed. Not all talents respond to the same pathways. Some people respond well after A-levels and the IT sector would do well to do some talent spotting," said Tuson.

Businesses are recognising the importance of attracting young people into IT jobs. Microsoft UK recently launched an apprenticeship scheme to place 3,000 young people in IT jobs over the next three years.

"Seventy seven per cent of jobs require IT skills according to E-Skills UK," said Stephen Uden, head of skills and economic affairs at Microsoft UK. "This is why at Microsoft we are committed to developing talent and providing opportunities for graduates and young people. These individuals fuel our talent pipeline,"

A-level results will be published on Thursday 19 August here >>


Year Subject Number of candidates % of total A-levels sat
2004 ICT 16,106 2.1
2004 Computing 8,488 1.1
2005 ICT 14,883 1.9
2005 Computing 7,242 0.9
2006 ICT 14,208 1.8
2006 Computing 6,233 0.8
2007 ICT 13,360 1.7
2007 Computing 5,610 0.7
2008 ICT 12,277 1.5
2008 Computing 5,068 0.6
2009 ICT 11,948 1.4
2009 Computing 4,710 0.6

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