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UK may face technology skills gap


In advance of this week’s A-Level and next week’s GCSE results, the UK’s business organisation the CBI claims not enough British pupils in state education and engaging in the kinds of subjects that will lead to jobs in technology.

‘Insufficient numbers’ are studying science, technology, engineering and maths  despite them leading to better job prospects and higher salaries.

The CBI says research shows that children in the state education system are far less likely to study science subjects and maths than those in the private sector – an ominous sign for the country’s long-term economic prospects.

The worries come in the context of the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme (, which was supposed to upgrade or even introduce for the first time modern ICT in English schools to support such moves.

“Young people are missing out on opportunities later in life because they are not studying enough science and maths at school,” warns Susan Anderson, CBI Director for Education and Skills.

“Parents, pupils and teachers need to understand this.”

Only 7% of comprehensive school students take at least one science A-level, compared with 33% of grammar school students and 28% of private school students (House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, Tenth Report of Season 2005-06), while only 10% of comprehensive school pupils sit triple science GCSE (with physics, chemistry and biology each constituting a whole GCSE), compared to 57% in grammar schools and 33% at private schools (Department for Education).

And students at private schools are 1.5 times more likely to study maths A-level and 2.5 times more likely to take further maths than state school students (Department for Education).

“Unless the numbers taking science and maths subjects at school and university rise, Britain faces a skills shortage which will weaken our economy,” she added.

The CBI also points out that  23.5% of secondary schools in England do  not have a specialist physics teacher (Centre for Education and Employment Research).

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Charlie Duff


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