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.
I would like to say a huge congratulations to all the students who have completed their BTEC qualifications this year. These results are a testament to all their hard work and the support and guidance of their teachers.
Looking at these entry patterns, we are seeing a clever set of students, who know it's a competitive world out there, choosing subjects and qualifications to equip them with the skills to secure a career in the future.
It is great to see such an increase in students taking STEM Level 3 BTEC qualifications, for example, as we know these industries are crying out for more experts in these fields to fulfil the future needs of our economy.
Lesley Davies, Vice President, Quality, Standards and Research at Pearson UK
Other findings of interest from the data include:
In terms of entries:
- There has been a slight overall dip in BTEC level 2 registrations (down by about 10% from 2013) and a slight increase in level 3 registrations (up by 7% from 2013).
In terms of achievement:
- Girls are still out performing boys. At level 3, 23% of girls achieved a D* this year, compared to 15% of boys. At level 2, 16% of girls achieved a D* this year, compared to 9% of boys.
- Overall, level 2 results have remained steady, with 12% of students getting a D*, compared to 13% last year, 6% getting a Distinction and 19% achieving a Merit (which are in line with last year’s results).
- Overall, level 3 results have increased, with 19% of students achieving a D* (compared to 15% last year), 15% getting a Distinction (compared with 13% last year) and 21% passing with Merit (the same as last year).
Pearson was the first awarding body to publish the achievements of students in schools and colleges studying a major vocational qualification. We are committed to the annual publication of these statistics. This is the fourth annual data release.