With the announcement of a 38% rise in the number of GCSE pupils taking ICT as a subject, the UK should rightly be more confident about the future of the IT industry than it can claim to be about the state it’s in today.
But speaking to a number of experts last week on how best to address the IT knowledge gap currently affecting the UK – with not enough computer science graduates to satisfy the economy’s demand for IT experts, it was put to me that the rise itself is not enough to provide the economy with a new wave of IT experts in the near future.
With a 6% drop in the number taking ICT as an A level (on top of a 10% drop the year before that), experts blamed the way it is taught in schools.
That should start to change from next month, with "dull as ditchwater" Excel spreadsheet-style learning being expelled in favour of sparking excitement among schoolchildren by having courses which explore the vast applications of ICT, with input from companies like Facebook and Google.
It is also hoped that education secretary Michael Gove’s new curriculum will attract more girls to the subject.
It’s strange that government is only now waking up to the need to equip the next generation of workers with the skills to operate in the IT industry.
It won’t change the problems the industry faces today, but perhaps the knowledge gap finally has a deadline – if the new teaching style imbues schoolchildren with a passion for the subject, then in five or so years’ time today’s schoolchildren might be our new IT experts and computer science graduates.