Fall in number of IT A-level students

The number of students taking the computing and ICT A-levels continues to fall, while the number achieving top grades has risen

This year's A-level results show the number of candidates taking IT-related subjects continues to decline.

The figures show 5,068 students sat the computing A-level this year, compared to 5,610 in 2007. An A grade was achieved by 16.1 — a slight increase on 2007, when 15.6 percent got the top grade.

The largest proportion of this year's candidates (22.4 percent) achieved a grade C, as was the case back in 2007.

When broken down by gender, girls did marginally better than boys, with 17.9 percent achieving an A in computing, compared to 15.9 percent of boys. Far more males than females took the exam, however — 4,588 to 480 — suggesting male gender bias in IT is set to continue.

Meanwhile, 12,277 male and female candidates sat the ICT A-level, compared to 13,360 last year, with 9.7 percent achieving an A grade, up fractionally on 2007, when 9.5 percent got the top grade. The ICT exam was sat by 7,607 boys and 4,670 girls, but females again performed better, with 13.2 percent getting an A, compared to 7.6 percent of the males.

Earlier this year, IT industry skills body e-skills UK's chief executive, Karen Price, called for a radical overhaul of IT teaching in schools, claiming it is putting children off a career in technology.

Academic qualifications are not the be all and end all when it comes to a career in technology, according to IT training company Computeach, which said that employers value IT specific qualifications that are relevant to current market conditions.

Darren O'Connell, careers consultant at Computeach, said in a statement: "While a degree in computer science, for example, will show a commitment to the subject and a high-level of technical knowledge, it may not differentiate an individual in a market that demands current and relevant skills."

O'Connell said that, while public-sector organisations often require degree-educated candidates, employees in private enterprise are likely to need an industry-recognised qualification in addition to any academic record.

He added: "It is the ability to communicate with customers, to solve problems and to understand business needs that will set you apart. These skills are fundamental, whether you enter the workplace at 16, after A-levels, or with a degree, and there are opportunities at all levels."