The UK has seen a drop in the number of teenagers gaining critical science, technology, engineering and maths grades, today’s GCSE results have shown.
The five subjects with the largest falls in attaining top grades since 2011 have all been in the science and technology areas.
Statistical analysis system regional vice-president for Northern Europe Mark Wilkinson said the drop in STEM subjects should be a “warning cry” for the UK’s plans for digital growth and innovation.
He said: “The UK is missing an opportunity to propel its economy forward using the insights drawn out of big data, but it is currently being held back by the dearth of talent with analytical skills.
“Unsurprisingly there is a huge demand for people who can find the all-important needle within this mountainous and ever-growing haystack.”
He added: “According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, insight gained from big data could contribute £322bn to the UK economy by 2020.
“Organisations are placing greater emphasis on hiring data scientists, data strategist, as well as technology savvy staff to manage data systems.
“In all, more than 180,000 jobs are set to be created – students should be spurred on by this demand and the lure of attractive salaries.
“Businesses, governments and individuals, will turn to data scientists to help transform their data deluge into intelligent insights that lead to better, evidence-based decisions.”
Aecom chief executive for civil infrastructure, EMEIA, Richard Robinson said: ”There is huge demand for STEM skills in industry and a big shortfall in qualified candidates.
”Insufficient numbers of STEM students at GCSE level will perpetuate today’s shortfall in apprentices and graduates in technical subjects, such as engineering.”
He added: ”STEM careers are vital to the UK economy, so it is important to create a healthy pipeline of skills and talent through today’s education system.
”Post-GCSE, girls turn away from STEM subjects at a much higher rate than boys, so this gender imbalance also needs to be addressed.
“The engineering industry is making great strides in diversity but the problem must be tackled at the source.”