School children across the UK are settling in for the new academic year, and having made their choices, many are now beginning to study towards gaining their GCSEs.

With one eye on the future – these children are, after all, the workforce of tomorrow – it’s very interesting to look at which subjects are trending up and which are becoming less popular, and the statistics offer some reassurance for those concerned about the UK’s skill shortage crisis.

Row of schoolchildren studying in front of a computer

This year, according to results published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), there were over 35,000 entrants to the Computing GCSE, compared to just 4,253 in 2013 and 16,773 in 2014. This represents a drastic rise of 111% compared to last year, thanks to the government’s encouragement of the subject. Alongside this, nearly 112,000 students took ICT at GCSE. Meanwhile, entrants to Humanities subjects have fallen by 22%, with a 3.57% decrease in History GCSE entrants.

Computing is, of course, one of the areas of concern to employers; the UK faces a significant shortage in digital skills, and it is generally agreed that digital literacy must be taught throughout the curriculum to ensure that British businesses have the skills that they need to succeed.

To encourage this, the Government has instigated a range of measures to encourage computing skills at school. It has already been brought in at key stages 1 and 2, and a new computing curriculum, introduced last September, has replaced the previous ICT curriculum, bringing with it new lessons on coding and other vital digital skills.

However, concerns have now been raised over the ability of teachers to convey this new curriculum, with a report from the Digital Skills Committee back in February stating that teachers are not all that confident when delivering digital skills.

The rise in popularity of the Computing GCSE may also be due to children’s growing confidence with computers; increasingly, we are bringing up generations of “digital natives” who have grown up with easy access to computers and the internet, and for whom many of these skills are already second nature. This makes Computing a far more attractive option compared to Humanities subjects, such as History, which are often seen as being more difficult.

Kids playing with new technology while adults entertain

Should this trend, and the accompanying rise in A-level computing entrants, continue, we may be on the way towards plugging the digital skills shortage – but it is not currently thought to be enough, as IT industry vacancies are also rising.

This means that the students settling into their computing studies now are positioning themselves well for a future career; their skills should still be in high demand when they enter the workplace in five to ten years time, just as they are in high demand now. This great demand may very well allow more of them than ever to enjoy the flexibility of working for themselves by forming a contractor limited company; the demand may even allow some to enter the workplace in this way.

This does, of course, carry its own concerns; entering the workplace for the first time is daunting enough, but entering the workplace and facing the task of dealing with all of your own paperwork and accountancy could be even more intimidating, and that’s where the team here at ICS comes in.

At ICS, we can help to ease any contractor into the world of working for yourself; our accountancy and administrative services help you to ensure compliance with all the relevant legislation, and help you to take home more of your salary as well. For further information, and advice on your options as a contractor, contact us today on 0800 195 3750.