A-level STEM student numbers fail to meet employer demand, warns CBI


A-level STEM student numbers fail to meet employer demand, warns CBI

Jenny Williams

The low number of students gaining A-level science, maths and technology qualifications is causing a skills gap to emerge, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

This year's A-level results show a decline in the number of students gaining IT-related qualifications.

The results show a 1.8% drop in the number of students taking IT-related A-levels, with 15,962 students studying for ICT and computing A-levels in 2011, compared with 16,251 last year.

Despite drops in the number of students studying IT courses, science and mathematics numbers continued to rise. Mathematics student numbers increased 7% year-on-year.

However, Neil Bentley, CBI deputy director-general, warned a skills gap is emerging as A-level qualifications are failing to meet employers' demands.

Neil Bentley said: "Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) student numbers are still too low and must increase further to meet employer demand."

He added: "There is already a skills gap emerging in this area with over 40% of companies saying they are having difficulty recruiting people with STEM skills."

Recent CBI research shows 56% more jobs will require people to hold graduate-level qualifications by 2017.

Bentley advised students gaining A-level qualifications to consider vocational training, such as apprenticeships and work placements, as well as university to meet demand from businesses for STEM skills.

Jim Sinclair, director at the Joint Council for Qualifications, said: "The increase in the number of students taking maths and the sciences suggest that young people are listening to the repeated calls from industry for more people to study the STEM subjects."

Computer Weekly has launched an information resource called IT Works to empower the digital economy through IT skills and training (ie help you get a job).

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