There has been a lot of focus on STEM subjects over the last few years, and rightly so.
The government in its Industrial Strategy Green Paper published earlier this year has drawn attention to the importance of the subjects and the need for skills in these areas, highlighting STEM skills as one of the ten key pillars.
There is currently a STEM skill crisis in the UK, with lots of unfilled roles in technology companies.
The UK is looking for ways to improve business productivity, increasing the number of higher paying roles that are based around STEM skills. Take the example of Wales; according to Tech Nation 2017 Report, Swansea and Cardiff is a rapidly rising technology hub. The Welsh government and the EU have invested, and will continue to invest, millions of pounds in funding to try to encourage businesses to start and grow. Finance Wales alone has earmarked over £150 million to invest in businesses.
We believe that attracting more students to study A-level Computing may be the answer to this crisis.
It is a widespread argument that Computing skills are vital for businesses to thrive. A-level Computing teaches how to design and code technology solutions; it’s that knowledge that helps people become programmers, analysts, designers and many other roles. It is the ‘T’ of technology in STEM.
So how does Computing stack up against the other subjects?
- Biology, the S in STEM, had 61,908, Chemistry 52,331 and Physics 36,578 students
- Engineering, the E in STEM, is taught after school using skills learnt in Maths and the Sciences
- Maths, the M in STEM, had 95,244 students
What were the results for A-level Computing? According to data from UK Joint Council for Qualifications Examination Results 2017:
- A-level Computing was taken by 8,299 students – the good news is that this number is growing!
- Sadly, only 816 were female students
- Overall 18,617 A-levels were taken by female students in Wales in 2017
- Out of a total of 1,452 A* grades received by female students, only 1 was in Computing
The point here is that we are most concerned about the total number of students of both genders taking A-level Computing.
So what can we do to support the ‘T’ in STEM?
We wholeheartedly support the Government’s forward-looking Industrial Strategy, particularly the second pillar of that Strategy which calls for developing skills around STEM.
We believe that this represents one of the most serious issues facing the UK. Business, the tech industry and universities all want to help address this problem.
We are seeking your support to build a network to promote the adoption and teaching of Computing in schools that will help fill the skills shortage that businesses need to compete in a global economy. Let’s be entrepreneurial in our actions to attract students to the STEM subjects, especially Computing. Their careers and livelihoods, as well as the success of the economy, depends on it.
It’s ‘T’ time.
Connect with us and like/comment on this article:
Adam Hale, formerly CEO of Fairsail: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adhale/
Jurek Sikorski, Executive Director of Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jureksikorski/