IT exam results herald nerd-free future

A Levels: Computing beats all other subjects as youngsters change their views of the profession

A Levels: Computing beats all other subjects as youngsters change their views of the profession

Bill Goodwin

A spectacular increase in the number of students opting to take A levels in information technology this year has raised hopes that the profession may be beginning to loose its geeky image.

Computing outstripped every other A level subject, as entries rose by 11% to 19,000 - the largest increase for any subject this year.

AS level entries grew by 25% and GNVQ entries by 8.4%.

The sudden jump in the popularity of the information technology courses may be the first indication that youngsters are beginning to change their views of the profession.

It also reflects a growing awareness that a shortage of professionals with Internet and Web related skills, is creating some lucrative opportunities.

Research conducted last year by the E-business National Training Organisation showed that many school children were shunning careers in IT because of its anorak-clad image.

"Schools have woken up to the publicity about IT skills shortage. They are listening to the market. And it can only help," said Gordon Greaves, director of the E-skills National Training Organisation.

The sudden increase in popularity of the Computing A level this year follows four years of steady growth.

But despite a plethora of schemes, such as the Women into IT initiative, which aims to encourage more women into the profession, computing remains a male-dominated subject.

The number of male students taking the examination this year is 14,938 compared to only 4,161 female students, figures from the Joint Council for General Qualifications revealed.

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