Young people more attracted to IT

The number of young people studying computing has increased sharply following the introduction of the one-year AS-level...

The number of young people studying computing has increased sharply following the introduction of the one-year AS-level examination.

Nearly 38,000 sat the new IT exam this year alongside 21,000 students taking traditional A-level examinations, and more than 9,400 taking GNVQ qualifications in IT.

The figures represent an effective doubling in the number of sixth-formers taking IT qualifications compared to last year. They have raised hopes that the profession may be beginning to win its battle against IT's poor image.

"It's really positive news that more young people are looking to study IT at every level. There has been a growth in the number of people studying computer science at university," said Karen Price, head of the E-skills National Training Organisation.

The Joint Council For General Qualifications said that more sixth-formers were choosing to take a one-year IT course to supplement their main A-level choices.

"IT is now a subject that few people can afford to be without. People doing maths physics and chemistry are taking an AS-level in IT. It is so prevalent in the workplace that a qualification is now worth having," it said.

Despite the increase in numbers, IT professionals said they were concerned that computing students appear to be scoring poorer grades on average than students taking other A-level subjects.

The failure rate for the new computing AS-level is 19.5%, compared to 5.3% for English or 12% for economics. Similarly, only 4.8% of AS computing students achieved a grade A, compared to 23% in economics and 16% in English.

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