Increase in maths and science A-levels good for industry, says EEF

An increase in students studying Maths and Science A-levels can benefit both manufacturing and the economy long term, says manufacturers organisation EEF.

Results published today show a surge in students taking up Maths and Science subjects at A-level, with a preference for more traditional subjects.

Biology, chemistry and physics accounted for 17.8% of all entries, up from 17% last year and 15% in 2009, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

One in eight (12%) were for maths and further maths, up from 11.5% in 2012 and 9.8% five years ago.

Commenting on today’s A-level results, Verity O’Keefe, Employment Skills and Policy Adviser at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said the results made for welcome news.

“Industry is crying out for talented young people with the right skills to help fuel the growth we’re now seeing in manufacturing, so the fact more and more young are people studying maths and sciences is good news. Those that do will significantly boost their chances of a successful career in industry,” she said.

But O’Keefe believes the next big challenge is to encourage more girls to study Physics and Maths in order to close the gender gap in engineering.

“The challenge now is to encourage more girls to study Physics and Maths to help close the gender gap and avoid them ruling themselves out of opportunities in engineering.

“This must be accompanied by a  stronger focus on careers advice and work experience in schools to give all young people a better understanding of the valuable jobs within industries such as manufacturing.”

Education minister Elizabeth Truss echoed the views of EEF, and said she was encouraged by the rise.

“It is extremely encouraging that there has been such a significant rise in the number of students taking A levels in subjects like maths and the sciences.

“These subjects are not just fascinating and worth studying for their own sake – they are also the ones which open up modern, high-tech careers and are most in demand by employers and universities. This is good for the economy and will help the UK compete,” she added.