Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Google Fears Crash in Next Generation of Experts: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Google Fears Crash in Next Generation of Experts: News

Article excerpt

Tech company says not enough students are taking computing.

Technology giant Google has expressed concern over how few students are taking computing, science and maths at A level.

Senior engineers at the company have lamented the lack of quality graduates coming out of university in the UK, and pointed to primary and secondary schools as being responsible for the skills shortage.

According to last summer's A-level results, the numbers studying computing fell for the ninth year in a row, with 3,800 candidates choosing the subject. The figure accounted for just 0.4 per cent of A levels taken in 2012.

While Google said that overall it was "extremely pleased" with the recent decision by the Department for Education to introduce computer science at GCSE, which it hopes will persuade more students to pursue the subject later on in their education, it added that there was still a great deal of work to be done.

Peter Barron, director of external relations at Google, told TES that the company believed the take-up of computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects were essential to Britain's future.

"It is something that Google, from top to bottom, feels very personally about," Mr Barron said. "STEM subjects are hugely important in themselves and Britain's future depends very heavily on them.

"That is why it was surprising and concerning to see, in the past few years, the stats showing that there has been a drop in the number of young people studying the subject (computing)."

Even Google's head of engineering was troubled, Mr Barron added. "It is a worry that computer science education is not being taken up as much," he said. "We need to employ computer engineers and seek to employ the brightest and the best, so we are concerned and worried as to where those great engineers are going to come from. …

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