A-level results are a mixed bag for industry
Today is the day that young people up and down the country set their alarms and head off to sixth form or college (despite it being the summer holidays) to pick up their A-level results. So let’s start with a huge congratulations to everyone who received their results on what can be a very nerve-wracking day.
Now, let’s check out these results.
It’s a mixed bag really. The news headlines are already running with top marks being edge down, and indeed this somewhat of a worrying trend when we look towards those key STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) that manufacturers are looking for. But this drop in top grades in maths and the sciences is fairly minor, as we can see below.
As well as a fall in the number of students making the grade, another slight cause for concern is the fall in the number of young people studying the sciences at A-level. On a positive note the number of young people studying maths has jumped up by 4.2% which is really encouraging.
Then there’s that little phrase I like to blog about ‘the gender gap.’ Once again far more girls are taking biology than boys, however the same cannot be said for physics, chemistry or maths. While the gap has closed slightly again this year for physics the pace is just too slow, and for the maths the gap has widened.
A concerted effort is needed by government, schools and colleges and industry to work harder to encourage more girls to take up STEM subjects. The door to a career in manufacturing is wide open for young people, especially those that have made the grade in the sciences and maths. But manufacturers can only grow and prosper when they have ready access to a wide pool of talent. Without greater encouragement to girls to take up key subjects such as maths and physics, that pool remains worryingly shallow.