Applicant numbers for IT teacher training still falling

So far this year, the number of applicants to undertake IT teacher-training courses has fallen 15.8 percent on the same period in 2007

The number of students applying to start postgraduate teacher-training courses in IT this academic year continues to slide.

The latest statistics from the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR) show total applicant numbers across all subjects for England, Scotland and Wales are 18 percent down on 2007, with IT showing the second worst decline among secondary school subjects.

As of June 2008, a total of 508 men and 273 women had applied to do an IT PGCE (postgraduate certificate in education) in the UK, compared to 619 men and 333 women by June 2007. Only physics has seen a bigger decline in applications, with a drop off of 27.5 percent.

Back in February, the percentage of students applying to study an IT PGCE in England was 16.3 percent lower than the year before. And, while the situation in this field has improved slightly, applications are now down 15.8 percent.

Business studies, biology and chemistry — which, earlier in the year, all had bigger declines in applicant numbers than IT — are now declining at a slower rate than IT.

At the start of the year, industry sector skills body e-skills UK predicted 140,000 new IT and telecoms workers will be needed annually to satisfy the industry's demand for increasingly skilled staff.

Margaret Sambell, head of strategy for e-skills UK, said: "IT is fundamentally important to business and society, and IT is recognised as a subject of strategic importance to the nation. With employment in the UK's IT industry continuing to grow five times faster than the all-industry average, it is essential we inspire young people about technology and encourage them to consider becoming the IT professionals of the future. We should all be very concerned about this decline in students applying to teach IT."

Speaking last month, a leading academic called for the IT curriculum in schools to be overhauled, claiming "boring" ICT classes which focus on Word and Excel are turning teenagers off IT as a career. As it turns out, they may also be turning off potential teachers.


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