The number of students completing ICT courses at GCSE level fell by a whopping 17 per cent in 2010 compared with 2009, leading industry figures to call for courses to be overhauled to make them more interesting to tech-savvy youngsters.
Figures show that 61,022 pupils sat the GCSE ICT this year compared with 73,519 in 2009. Of the 33,922 boys and 27,100 girls who sat the exam this year, 8.8 per cent achieved grade A* while 21.2 per cent bagged a grade A.
Jon Taplin, global service manager for IT service provider FDM, which takes on 500 graduates every year, said he thought the figures underlined the fact IT courses were not seen as relevant enough for the real world by many students.
"From a course perspective, it is hard to simplify IT as a GCSE, therefore when you do try it loses its edge and students lose interest. Learning to use Microsoft Office tools and how computers are used within a business may come across as superficial," he said.
"Therefore students do not look to delve into IT as a career until a later date. At school you are taught the basics, which are simply not as complex as computer usage in the workforce, and therefore students are put off by it."
Tony Osborn, UK public sector manager at security firm Symantec, said that he too thought the drop in those sitting the course underlined a lack of interest in what is taught and argued that bigger issues, such as security, should feature more heavily.
"Students have grown up surrounded by computers. By the time they reach GCSE level they are already skilled enough on a computer to do most jobs. If we are going to extend their interest in ICT we need to find topics that make the subject appeal to them," he said.
"Talking to pupils about topics such as poisoned Facebook applications, dirty music downloads and credit card phishing attacks gains their interest far more than the more bland aspects of ICT ever will."
The figures make grim reading for the IT industry in light of news last week that fewer numbers of students leaving university are considering the IT sector as a career path while female IT staff still struggle to get paid the same as their male equivalents.
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