IET: Increase in young women studying Physics GCSE good for the economy

Today’s publication of GCSE results shows that the uptake of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects has increased but attainment has gone down.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has welcomed the increased uptake of enabling subjects for engineering and technology such as Maths and Physics, particularly amongst girls but warns that practical experience is also essential to employability.

Stephanie Fernandes, IET Principal Policy Advisor, said: “GCSEs in the STEM subjects are the first crucial stepping stone to progressing into not just the engineering and technology sector but a wide range of careers and it is therefore crucial that a high level of uptake and attainment is maintained.

“However, GCSEs do not always provide the level of practical experience that employers need.  The IET’s Skills & Demand in Industry Report 2013 showed that 42 per cent of employers have expressed disappointment with the skills of new employees. This can be addressed in schools via work experience placements or by completing an apprenticeship after students have taken their GCSEs.

“Apprenticeships can offer school leavers a route to industry that enables students to earn while they learn and a way of progressing to other professional qualifications. The UK needs more Higher Level apprenticeships to tackle the skills gap and to ensure that they are of sufficient quality to meet industry demand.

“It is important that students understand that they have a choice to study an apprenticeship as an alternative to university.”