Eleanor Bradley, MD Registry and Public Benefit at Nominet says:
“Covid-19 has undoubtedly shone a light on the importance of digital skills, with the pandemic catalysing a digital transformation in the world of work. This is evident in the many organisations embracing technological innovations in order to maintain business as usual via digital channels.
“In light of this, it is positive that the number of students studying STEM subjects at A-Level has increased this year, as part of a longer-term trend. STEM A-level entries in the UK now account for 64% of all courses taken, an increase of 8% over the last five years, according to NTT Data UK. In particular, computing has seen a significant uptake of 131% during this period.
“This is an encouraging step in the right direction towards ensuring young people are able to develop the digital skills necessary to fuel our future talent pipeline – vital if we are going to continue to fill the growing number of job opportunities we have in the digital sphere.
“However, the job is far from done, and this should not stop us from encouraging more young people to take up STEM subjects at school – the UK economy could lose as much as £141.5bn of GDP growth if we don’t narrow the skills gap which has only been made worse by the pandemic. Encouraging young people into STEM subjects at school is a foundational step in ensuring that the future working generation has the necessary skills for – and interest in – the plethora of digital roles available in the world of work.
“As the subjects a student picks for their A-Levels also provides an early indication of the career aspirations for the workers of tomorrow it is fantastic to see a rise in the number of girls taking and excelling in STEM subjects. The total number of girls opting to study computing has grown by 21.8% year to year.
“This really is vital when we look at the lack of gender diversity within the tech sector, especially with recent data highlighting how 69% of undergraduates studying STEM subjects are male. Diversity matters in our sector because we need a variety of different people, perspectives and ideas at the table if we are going to create inclusive technology that helps everyone. This year’s A-Level results show we are moving in the right direction to achieve this.
“Nevertheless, we still need to fight for wider scale social change. We can achieve this by ensuring more parents, teachers, career advisors and tech sector employees contribute to a wider cultural discourse that will encourage even more girls to take up STEM subjects and improve the tech industry for the better.”