CBI issues science skills warning
Teenagers who are good at science should be made to take individual GCSEs in biology, chemistry and physics, business leaders have said.
Two fifths of firms are struggling to recruit people with science and maths-based skills, according to the CBI.
Studying the three sciences separately prepares youngsters and would give them the confidence to go on to take the subjects at A-level and university, it said.
But those who take double science at GCSE lack the confidence to take A-levels in physics and chemistry, the business body warned.
A survey of business leaders conducted by the CBI in May this year found that a third (34%) believe that all teenagers with an aptitude for science at the age of 14 should be made to take triple science at GCSE.
Almost half of 14-year-olds (46%) achieved high marks in the subject (reaching level 6, one above the standard expected of the age group) in 2009, the CBI claimed. But only a fifth of all pupils took separate GCSEs in biology, chemistry and physics (triple science) in 2009/10, the organisation said.
CBI chief policy director Katja Hall said: "The UK's economic recovery will rely on businesses being able to access the talent they need to deliver sustainable growth.
"As the economy rebalances, we will need more highly-skilled employees, particularly for young people with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees, but businesses are struggling to recruit good graduates from the UK."
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said: "Forcing high achieving pupils to commit a day and a half a week of lessons to triple science at GCSE is not the way to inspire young people nor to meet the demand for graduates with science and engineering degrees.
"It could have the opposite effect by turning young people off science. Many thousands of pupils opt for double science, which includes all three sciences and is a perfectly sound foundation to go on to advanced sciences at A-level."