IT skills and gender gaps persist

Further insight into the IT and Telecoms skills landscape from e-skills UK has revealed women and students are being sorely missed.

The gender imbalance and lack of students taking up computing degrees persists in the UK, according to new research from IT skills body e-skills UK.

It said the gender imbalance has been narrowing at GCSE level but remains an issue at A-level, despite higher achievement rates by females across the subject.

Further Education or work-based IT qualifications continued to attract predominantly male learners, and the situation persisted through Higher Education. In 2007, women made up just 15 per cent of applicants to computing degrees, 20 per cent of computing qualifiers and 15 per cent of telecoms qualifiers.

Added to this, the e-skills UK Assessment of Current Provision report found there has been a significant decline in the uptake of IT education at the post-GCSE level, with a decline in the number of students taking A-level computing and related subjects.

"Falling student interest, confusion over subject matter and terminology and disjoints in terms of progression are all significant issues that effect the uptake of IT-related education," said the report.

This downturn continued through to Higher Education, where the number of applicants to computing degrees is now below the level seen in 1996.

The report, which is part of the IT and Telecoms Insights 2008' series, included input from more than 4,000 UK employers.

It did, however point to increased public sector funding into training and increased levels of uptake for work-based IT learning opportunities.

Also released today, the regional report for England from e-Skills UK's Technology Counts' study, found there are over 100,000 businesses in the England's IT and telecoms industry, representing six per cent of the overall English total.

Of these, 92 per cent were IT companies and eight per cent were in telecoms. A further 99 per cent were services-based and 62 per cent were made up of software-related consulting companies. And 42 per cent were in London and the South East of England, compared to 30 per cent of all businesses.

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