Drop in IT-related GCSE students offers little help for digital skills shortage

Today’s GCSE results show that while 4,000 more students took GSCE Computing than in 2016, when the ICT GCSE student level is also factored in, overall students in IT-related GCSE programmes dropped from 146,574 to 139,850.

There was no change in the gender split for GCSE Computing this year after strong growth last year, with 21% female students again. However, the grade performance gap widened, with female students outperforming their male counterparts by 6% at both Grade A/7 and above (25.4% to 19.6%) and Grade C/4 and above (65.7% to 59.6%).

Karen Price, CEO of the Tech Partnership, said: “Well done to everyone who passed their GCSEs this year. I’m concerned that given this is the last year for the ICT qualification, while 10,000 or so fewer students studied the ICT, we only witnessed a corresponding 4,000 student uplift in the Computing GCSE qualification.

“Given our current productivity and skills gaps, more must be done to design a new GCSE curriculum with employers that is attractive to male and female students alike and which teaches the digital skills required for the future digital economy. Today’s data proves that when female students can be engaged to choose GCSE Computing, their performance level is impressively high.

We should harness more of our next generation talent by demonstrating how technology is an enabler, providing wide-ranging solutions to today’s social and commercial issues. At the Tech Partnership we’ve seen the difference this can make in schools with our TechFuture Badges programme, through which students earn online badges in important digital skills such as web design, coding, app building, cyber security and game creation.

For any students getting their results today not looking to continue their studies at A-Level, I’d encourage them to consider an employer-backed apprenticeship, with opportunities available across the tech sector, including digital marketing, software and web development, and technical network support roles.”

Click here to find out more about our digital badges for schools and digital apprenticeships.