IT professional bodies have today expressed concern at the continuing decline in the number of students who take computing at A-Level.

There were just 4,002 computing entries this year, making up 0.5 percent of the total number of A-Level results (867,317). It is the eight consecutive year of decline, and according to TIGA, the trade association representing the UK’s games industry, this was a reduction of 65 entries on last year.

There was a small increase in the number of grade A or above results in computing (0.4 percent), with 3.7 percent gaining an A*.

However, Karen Price, CEO of sector skills body e-skills UK, noted that the proportion of students achieving A* in computing (3.7 percent) was lower than the average across all A-level subjects (8.2 percent).

“This is particularly disappointing given that the demand for IT professionals is growing, with an estimated half-million new entrants required over the next five years.

“That is why employers are supporting the need for curriculum reform, with the intention to create new A-Level and GCSEs in IT that will be highly regarded by both universities and employers, and sought after by students,” said Price.

Bill Mitchell, director of BCS Academy of Computing, added: "It's depressing to see the number of computing A-Level students fall. This is an important issue that we must address.

“We need to ensure that all youngsters are given the opportunity to experience the excitement of computing at an early age, and teach them how to create technology for themselves. If we fail to do this, then we are denying our children the chance of becoming tomorrows technology leaders and innovators.”  

Meanwhile, Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, said: “Computer games developers need talented young students coming through our education institutions with a mastery of subjects such as physics, art, mathematics and computing.

“While the increase in entries for mathematics and physics is encouraging to see, the continued decline in entries in computing is of particular concern,” said Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA.

The number of entries for mathematics rose by 5,994 to 82,995, while 12,287 took further mathematics, up 605 on last year. In addition, physics entries rose 1,884 to 32,860.

But business lobbying organisation CBI said that uptake of STEM subjects was still insufficient.

“We’re encouraged that more people have heeded the call from businesses to study A-Level maths and science, but overall numbers are still far too low and must increase further to meet employer demand.

“There is already a skills gap emerging in this area with over 40 percent of companies saying they are having difficulty recruiting people with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills,” said Dr Neil Bentley, deputy director-general of CBI.

Moreover, the gender gap in computing is still a problem, with the number of females down eight percent.

Although female students were more likely than males to get a grade B or above in computing, and there were more females achieving these grades compared with last year, TIGA expressed concern about the low numbers of females studying the subject.

Just 302 of the computing entrants were female, compared to 3,700 males.