A-Levels: Uptake in Maths and Physics welcomed

Published:  17 September, 2018

The uptake in students studying the crucial engineering gateway subjects of Mathematics and Physics is a step in the right direction but exams alone do not give today’s students the right practical experience and insight into modern engineering careers, says the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Addressing growing concerns that the current curriculum limits the ‘work-readiness’ of future engineers, the IET has called for a more balanced combination of education, work experience and careers guidance for A-Level students, in order to enhance employability skills of school-leavers and help close the widening engineering skills gap.

However it’s not just the responsibility of schools; The IET’s latest Skills survey found that nearly two thirds (61%) of the engineering and technical workforce consider the recruitment of engineering and technical staff with the right skills as a barrier to achieving their business objectives over the next three years. A majority 81% of businesses surveyed agreed that more employers need to provide work experience to help improve the supply of engineers and technicians.

Dr Graham Herries, co-chair of the IET Skills and Education Policy Panel, said: “The uptake in students studying the crucial engineering gateway subjects of Maths and Physics, and potentially opening the door to an exciting and creative career as engineers, is a step in the right direction.

“However it is crucial young people are supported in their studies and without the right balance of education, work experience and careers guidance they might not be aware of the exciting range of engineering roles available to them, which in turn could be compounding the industry’s skills problem and limit their work-readiness.

“We now need to ensure that this positive uptake in STEM learning converts to young people studying engineering subjects at university and taking up apprenticeships. It is never too early to start developing the next generation of ‘home grown’ engineering and technology talent that have the right practical skills for careers in modern engineering and we believe that starts in the classroom.”

Figures recently released by the Joint Council for Qualifications for A-Level results UK wide show a slight increase in entries to Mathematics (12% of total number sat this year compared to 11.5% in 2017) and Physics (4.7% of total number sat this year compared to 4.4% in 2017). Numbers in studying Design and Technology however have decreased (1.9% of total number sat this year compared to 2.5% in 2017).

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