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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Unused digital skills valued at £6.7 billion by businesses, research finds

The unused digital skills among unemployed young people are estimated by UK businesses to be worth £6.7 billion, new research from O2 finds.

The findings highlight that businesses are in vital need of the digital skills the generation that grew up with the internet have, including web design, coding and social media expertise.

Further research shows that businesses expect a fifth of their growth over the next three years to come through digital channels. When asked which skills would most help their business grow and develop, digital skills were on a par with new business development and customer acquisition abilities. 

O2 is encouraging young people to showcase their digital talents to potential employers, whilst urging employers to look to young people to fill their digital skills gaps. 

The study stresses that organisations need to do more to make the most of the digital skills sitting unused in the youth community. More than three-quarters of businesses acknowledge that young people have digital skills in abundance but less than one quarter are planning to offer a first time job or an 'on the job' training role to a young person in the coming months. 

O2 CEO Ronan Dunne said: "There are more than a million young people out of work. It's a travesty that whilst businesses are crying out for digital skills, they are excluding from the workplace the very people who have them.

"Now is the time when thousands of young people will be deciding what to do next. We want to encourage them to make the most of the fact that they have grown up in a digital world and be confident in the value of their skills to prospective employers. Businesses need to recognise the value that young people can bring - they are the future fuel of the economy and have the skills we need to help pull us out of recession."

The findings also reveal a need for businesses to embrace young people and maximise the digital skills young people say they possess:

• Nine out of ten can use social media to promote an event, idea or cause

• Two-thirds of young people can design a webpage

• One in five can develop an app

• More than 10 per cent are "confident" at coding, whilst another 25 per cent have experienced coding at some point

Adam Thilthorpe, director for professionalism, BCS Chartered Institute for IT, said: "Digital skills and IT is at the heart of almost everything in society today. It's important that not only should everyone be able to make use of technology to take advantage of the benefits information and technology bring to society, but also that we encourage young people to consider their career options and how IT and digital skills apply in the workplace."


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