Statistics show large increases in students studying vocational qualifications in subjects most critical for UK economy.
Today, Pearson publishes entry and achievement data for students completing level 2 (First) and level 3 (National) BTEC qualifications between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014.
The statistics show that students are choosing to study subjects identified as the most important for economic growth, revealing a 17% rise in level 3 (sixth form) students taking STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) focused BTECs, with an increase of students at level 3 of 27% taking Applied Science, 12% taking ICT and 17% taking Engineering. A recent report by the CBI outlined how a healthy supply of STEM-skilled employees at all levels is required for a flourishing UK economy and rising living standards.
Bucking the trend that sees sciences as traditionally 'male' subjects, there was a big increase of 27% in girls taking this subject. As a result, more girls (54%) than boys (46%) gained Applied Science level 3 BTECs this year.
ICT and Engineering remain male-dominated subjects. 83% of students taking ICT at level 3 are male and so are 95% of those taking Engineering at level 3. Nevertheless, the percentage of female students taking these subjects has increased since last year by 11% for ICT and 53% for Engineering.
The girls that do take these subjects also out-perform their male peers:
- 25% of girls who took an Applied Science level 3 BTEC got the highest grade of a D*, compared to 14% of boys
- 25% of girls who took an Engineering level 3 BTEC got the highest grade of a D*, compared to 14% of boys
- 36% of girls who took an ICT Level 3 BTEC got the highest grade of a D*, compared to 21% of boys.