UK's IT sector may suffer as students ditch computer courses

The IT sector in the UK may fall behind as more and more students ignore inadequate computer courses, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications at the Royal Society.

It found that there was a 33 percent drop in students sitting ICT GCSEs between 2006 and 2009, with a similar drop for ICT A Levels between 2003 and 2009. It even found that there was a whopping 57 percent drop in Computer A Levels between 2001 and 2009, suggesting that more and more people are ignoring what was once a popular industry to break into.

The Royal Society believes the reasons for the decline are poor design and delivery of curriculum, which impacts upon how students perceive these courses, how much they get out of them, and how much fun they have while on them. In effect, they are simply not engaging enough. TechEye‘s younger staffers remember ICT courses being a bit of a doss.

Professor Steve Furber, Fellow of the Royal Society, who led the research, was laudatory of the UK’s history as a leader in IT, but he warned that it is falling behind as a result of poor courses. 

“If we cannot address the problem of how to educate our young people in inspirational and appropriate ways, we risk a future workforce that is totally unskilled and unsuited to tomorrow’s job market,” he said.

A number of big IT companies, such as Google and Microsoft, are participating in the research, keen to encourage uptake among computer courses in order to ensure a skilled workforce for the future.

“At a time when computers are playing an ever more important role in our work and everyday lives, we should be able to encourage more, not fewer, students to learn how to create with technology. It’s a sad loss that we’re missing this opportunity,” said Dr. David J. Harper, head of university relations at Google EMEA.

Students in the UK may be flaunting their iPhones and iPods, but that won’t help them when they enter the workplace with little to no qualifications.