This year's IT A-level results mark a worrying trend for the IT sector, according to Microsoft's director of education.
A-level results for 2011 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. The number of students taking IT courses has fallen by 49% since 2006, down to 15,962 from 20,441 five years ago.
Steve Beswick, UK director of education in for Microsoft, warned a decline in IT A-levels could lead to increased offshoring of IT jobs.
"The downward trend around computer science numbers is a worrying trend from an IT perspective and a business point of view," he said.
"IT jobs are growing at four times the rate of the standard jobs market. With fewer people with appropriate IT skills coming out of education, there'll be no-one to fill the jobs available in the marketplace. We could see more off-shoring to India and China as a result," said Steve Beswick.
Beswick believes the IT sector needs to work to inspire young people from ages as young as eight-years-old. But in the short term, businesses will need to look to maths and engineering graduates to fill IT jobs.
"STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] subjects provide a solid grounding to move into an IT career. The IT industry should look to other subject areas where candidates have the underlying principles to move into a computer science role," he added.
Computer Weekly has launched an information resource called ITworks to empower the digital economy through IT skills and training (ie. help you get a job).