GCSE ICT participation soars in 2013 by nearly 40 per cent

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The number of UK students who sat the full course GCSE ICT exam was nearly 40 per cent higher in 2013 than last year.

According to figures released by the Joint Council Qualifications (JCQ), 73,487 students sat the full course ICT exam this year, compared to 53,197 in 2012.

The number of people sitting the short course ICT qualification (11,908) was markedly down on 2012 (15,223).

We need to ensure we're continuing to stoke the interest of students in technology subjects if we are to compete in the global information economy.

However, the number of students sitting short course GCSEs in all subjects was down by nearly 100,000 on 2012, with just over 274,000 teenagers studying them.

Despite this, the uptick in full course ICT uptake is sure to be welcomed by the Government, given its push in recent years to make studying for computing-related qualifications a more appealing proposition for students.

Forty-two per cent of full-course GCSE ICT students were girls this year, down two percentage points on 2012, while around 58 per cent were boys, but there was a 31 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of female students who took the exam in 2013. This figure equates to 30,894 girls.

Meanwhile, the number of male ICT GCSE students was up 43.86 per cent on last year, with 42,593 boys sitting the exam.

Across all subjects, the students that achieved A*-to-C grades was down 1.3 percentage points on 2012 at 68.1 per cent.

The proportion of full course ICT students who achieved A*-to-C grades was in line with this downward trend, according to the JCQ's cumulative percentage breakdown of the figures.

In other GCSE ICT-related news, 2013 also saw the number of students who took full course exams in maths and science increase by 13.9 per cent and 8.29 per cent, respectively.

Even so Geoffrey Taylor, head of academic programmes at business analytics software firm SAS UK and Ireland, said student participation in science and technology suggests is still way below par.

"For years the technology sector has found it difficult to hire people with the right skills, especially in areas such as maths, science and statistics so it is imperative that we see a shift in favour of these subjects from the next generation of talent," he warned.

"With fierce competition from nations such as China and India, where the level in investment in skills and training is on the rise, we need to ensure we're continuing to stoke the interest of students in technology subjects if we are to compete in the global information economy," Taylor added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.