E-skills UK has warned of an alarming 23 percent fall in the number of students taking a GCSE in ICT.
Some 47,130 GCSE students received ICT exam results yesterday, down from over 70,000 last year, which the sector skills council warned was an "enormous" drop.
It was "disappointing" to see the "continued decline" in the subject's popularity, e-skills said. The news bodes badly for A-Level student numbers, which also experienced a decline, albeit much less severe. The number of A-Level computing and ICT students fell nearly two percent to approximately 16,000.
Karen Price, chief executive at e-skills, said the decline in GCSE numbers was "especially concerning given the economic importance of IT to the UK economy".
"This year e-skills UK research showed a record number of people employed in IT and increasing employer demand for people to enter a sector predicted to require a further half-million new entrants over the next five years."
There needed to be an "urgent reform" of the IT curriculum, Price said, so that the subject catches the attention of teenagers.
"IT must be taught in a way that is relevant and inspiring to young people, that capitalises on the interests and aptitudes of young people, and that demonstrates the exciting and dynamic opportunities a career in IT offers."