From education to employment

2021 students reverse trend in uptake of technology GCSE’s

Following the opening of envelopes by the UK’s 16- and 17-year-olds this morning, it’s been revealed that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects have seen rising popularity after several years of decline. 

According to today’s data, the number of young people pursing the STEM disciple overall rose by 1.92%, whilst computing specifically saw a 0.94% increase in students taking exams in the subject. 

Jen Rodvold, Head of Digital Ethics & Tech for Good, Sopra Steria said:

“The pandemic disrupted the education of many students in the UK, as well as around the world. Now more than ever, we must ensure that future generations are equipped with the skills they need for the future of work – one that’s increasingly being disrupted by digital. As someone working in the tech industry, it’s encouraging to see an increase in the number of students taking technology and IT GCSEs this year, especially after it was reported earlier in the year that this has been in decline for quite some time. 

“However, we can’t rest on our laurels and must seek to understand what the contributing factors to this positive result are, and collectively strive to make this uptake a permanent change. Educational institutions and businesses must work harder to address the issue if we expect young adults to pursue careers in the tech field. When it comes to continuing to promote IT subjects to young people, role models are essential to inspire the next generation – providing them with first-hand experience on what types of roles are out there and piquing their interest.

“When it comes to closing the digital skills gap, business leaders and recruiters also need to understand what kind of transferable skills, from both inside and outside their industry, can be considered from job applicants. It’s critical for businesses to accept that, while STEM education is a great foundation for learning, continuous on-the-job training is incredibly valuable. Giving young people the opportunity to pick up new skills while working allows them to learn precise business processes and level-up in specific areas.

Geoff Smith, CEO, of talent management consultancy, Grayce said:

“It’s encouraging to see today’s GCSE results showing that more of our youngest talent is taking tech led subjects such as computing, which we believe is an important step in helping close the growing tech skills gap that is sweeping the nation. These digitally native individuals have the potential to add a huge amount of value across a wide range of industries in the UK, especially when we consider how the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation within businesses.

“But even though the figures are improving, we can still do more to inspire higher numbers of young people to take STEM subjects at GCSE and A-Level. This is one of the reasons why we are co-sponsoring a coding course with Code Nation later this month, to help more 16-18 year olds develop crucial tech skills and kickstart their careers. There’s one demographic in particular that remains key to helping to narrow the gap – according to the latest figures, just 26% of UK graduates with core STEM degrees are female. At Grayce, we are hugely passionate about improving diversity in tech, which is why we’re also funding two women to enrol in Code Nation’s 12-week Coding Bootcamp in the Autumn to encourage more females to join the industry.

“It’s also important to acknowledge that the students receiving their results today have faced an unprecedented life-changing event, with the pandemic forcing them to adapt to remote learning and study in isolation away from their friends. These young people are incredibly resilient and if they’re provided with the right training programmes to help them develop the digital skills most in demand by businesses today, our future industries should be in good hands.”

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