Prince's Trust: Poor IT skills hurt youth job chances

 

Will.i.am says he was intimidated by science at school, but is now taking a computer science course

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A lack of computer skills could be damaging the career chances of young people, a charity has warned.

More than one in 10 young people do not think their computer skills are good enough to use in the job they want, the Prince's Trust said.

The research follows a £500,000 donation by hip hop star will.i.am to the Trust last year.

His donation will be used on projects to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills.

"I was intimidated by science and advanced maths," said the music star, who donated his fee for appearing on BBC talent show The Voice.

"When I say, 'Hey kids, you guys should want to be scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians...' I say that because I too am going to school to learn computer science.

"I'm taking a computer science course, because I'm passionate about where the world's going, curious about it and I want to contribute," he told the BBC.

Embarrassed

The Prince's Trust research was based on interviews with 1,378 British 15-to-25-year-olds, including 265 "Neets" - those not in education, employment or training.

One in 10 unemployed young people cannot send their CV online, while a quarter say they "dread" filling in online job applications, the survey found.

A tenth of Neets said they were embarrassed by their lack of computer skills, and 17% admitted they do not apply for jobs that require basic computer skills.

Start Quote

There remains a postcode lottery, with some schools providing barely more than an hour a week of computer access”

End Quote Valerie Thompson E-Learning Foundation

The research was released to mark the launch of a new Prince's Trust scheme to engage young people in schools with science and technology.

Under the scheme, staff from the Science Museum will visit Prince's Trust clubs in schools to work with young people at risk of exclusion and under-achievement.

"We work with the hardest-to-reach pupils, who may not have access to a computer at home, and often don't have basic IT skills," said Martina Milburn, the Prince's Trust chief executive.

"The Trust is using will.i.am's generous donation to engage these young people in science and technology while they're still at school.

"We're also giving young people more access to IT to support them into work, and helping more unemployed young people set up technology-related businesses."

'Postcode lottery'

Valerie Thompson from the E-Learning Foundation, which aims to provide learning technologies to children both at home and at school, said that while will.i.am's donation was "fantastic", there remained "a very significant challenge".

"That [donation] would buy 2,000 children an iPad, and we've got 750,000 children who can't get online at home," she told the BBC.

"This wouldn't be so bad if they had great access at school, but there remains a postcode lottery, with some schools providing barely more than an hour a week of computer access. No wonder they lack the skills to prepare a good CV!"

She added that there is money in the system which could be used to improve computer access at schools, pointing to the pupil premium, which is paid to schools to support disadvantaged pupils, rising to £1.875bn in 2013-14, or £900 per disadvantaged child.

"So the solution is there if schools are prepared to use the new discretionary powers they now have over what to spend their budgets on," she said.

 

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  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 361.

    Its not the skills we are short of its the demand. The market is saturated with people with MCSE & MCP and CCNA etc etc it doesn’t mean they are actually any good mind, just they have done the exams. Also too many employers want an expert in everything for 25k which just isn’t going to happen.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 323.

    I graduated with a 2:1 IT degree two years ago and have struggled to find a decent job in the IT industry.

    I'm currently working in IT support earning just £20k a year, and struggling to survive living in the South East. I find most IT employers are very reluctant to take on anyone that doesn't have a list of industry certs as long as your arm and umpteen years industry experience.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 140.

    We desperately need more computer programming graduates in this country. With the abstraction of computer technology through high level graphical interfaces such as Windows, there is less of a desire for young people to truly explore programming and aquire this valuable skill.

  • rate this
    +41

    Comment number 125.

    Why would you want to buy 2000 children an iPad? Aren't devices like iPads, iPods and games consoles part of the problem?

    In my experience, secondary-age students think that they know about ICT because they've got gadgets at home, but I find that that their internet searching and file-management skills are often woeful. Students were more engaged with ICT and more highly-skilled 10 years ago.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 94.

    Many teens are quite comfortable with IT I would say about 3/4 are competent, there are few specialist ICT or Computer Science teachers.
    I am a school ICT technician and frequently am called upon to help teachers in an ICT class who do not understand what they are teaching
    We desperately need real Computer Science teachers, unfortunately many schools do not have any

 

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