Digital economy ‘at risk’ as pupils shun computing qualifications

Calls for investment in mentoring and high-tech work experience placements to encourage students to pursue computer science courses as part of the UK’s digital economy strategy

by the commentator on 19 June 2017 10:57


British pupils are shunning critical courses like computer science, according to a new report from BBC Online. The research cites figures from Ofqual, revealing that overall numbers of students taking computer courses has fallen at GCSE level.

The decline has sparked a warning from industry group The British Computing Society which has warned that the number of pupils studying for a computing qualification ‘could halve’ by 2020.

Responding to the news, Michael Mercieca, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise said, “A decline in young people taking computer science courses is bad news for the future of the UK’s digital economy.

Businesses are already grappling with huge challenges around cyber security and artificial intelligence and it’s vital that our education system equips the next generation to fill these roles.”

Mercieca continued: It’s time for industry to reach out and provide work more placements, support and training in schools to help inspire students to pursue careers in the increasing critical technology industry.”

Meanwhile Peter Carlisle, European VP at Thales e-Security said, “With Cyber attacks increasing, a decline in young people taking computer science courses in unacceptable, especially when businesses are so desperate for specialist skills and support.

To reverse this trend, industry must do more to provide training and work experience to help encourage the next generation to pursue a career in IT, which is now the frontline against hackers,” added Carlisle.

Chas Moloney, director at tech giant Ricoh UK said, “With businesses crying out for digital skills, it’s truly shocking that so many of our young people are shunning computer science courses. We cannot allow this decline to continue, and it’s time for the tech industry to get out there and start making a case for choosing a career in IT.”

Moloney continued, “That’s why we need more quality apprenticeship schemes, mentoring and a much louder voice in schools and colleges. Failure to address this problem with practical solutions will leave businesses poorly resourced and inevitably damage our ability to compete internationally.”  

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