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BCS: university degree not the only route to an IT job

The British Computer Society is urging A-level school-leavers who are not going to university to consider IT careers, saying part-time courses and work placements offer alternatives to degrees.

The advice comes as figures from the Joint Council for Qualifications show a further drop in the number of young people studying technology-related A-levels.

The number of students taking A-level computing in 2007 was down 10% on 2006, dropping from 6,233 to 5,610. And the number taking A-level ICT fell 6% from 14,208 to 13,360. Other science subjects fared better, with maths climbing 7.3% from 55,982 to 60,093.

Industry bodies such as the BCS and E-Skills UK have warned that future skills shortages caused by the falling numbers of technology students could cause problems for the IT industry and the wider UK economy.

Figures for 2007 from the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service show a rise of 0.1% in the number of undergraduates applying for computer science courses. Numbers for software engineering are up 2.5%, but applications for IS courses are down by 10.6%.

Mike Rodd, BCS director of learned society and external relations, said, "Not studying IT at school does not stop people from following a career in it. Our worry is that if students are not taking it at A-level, it probably means that they are not going to consider IT as a career, and that is a bigger concern.

"There is clearly a perception among students, parents and teachers that IT does not offer a good career choice. We have a variety of programmes that demonstrate to kids what IT can do for them, including lectures showing the really exciting developments that grab kids' attention.

"We are also increasingly working with teachers to see what we can do to make the way IT is taught more attractive. If students are not opting for it, there must be a problem somewhere."


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