Unused digital skills? That'll be £6.7Billion please

With A-Level results just behind us and GCSE results due tomorrow, we’re firmly in the time where lots of young people will be taking their first steps on the career ladder.

This is the class of 2012, a generation that has grown up with the internet and holds a unique set of natural digital skills.

To show how important young people are to businesses and the digital skills they can offer, we completed some research and want to share some of the findings with you here:

  • Businesses expect 21% of their growth over the next three years to come from digital channels, but consider only 35 per cent of their staff to be digitally savvy.
  • Over three-quarters of businesses acknowledge that young people have great digital skills, but less than 24% are planning to offer a first time job to a young person in the coming months.
  • The unused digital skills of young people is estimated to be worth £6.7 billion.

This paints quite a worrying picture and shows the need for businesses to recognise the value of young people and start harnessing their natural skills. At a time when business clearly needs digital skills, we’re overlooking a group of digital natives that are raring to go.

We had a quick chat with one of our apprentices, Daryl Williams, to get his view on the research and see what he thinks about digital skills.

After completing his first year of A-Levels, Daryl left college and picked-up work in labouring and retail. He then joined the O2 apprenticeship scheme in September 2010 and is currently working in the digital innovation team.

“It’s quite fascinating really – well, fascinating and worrying! Clearly the value of young people in a lot of businesses is underrated. I think sometimes companies may be too keen on experienced people for specific roles and could be missing a trick by not giving a young person a shot.

I also think young people can do more to show off what they’re capable of. I did a bit of IT at school but didn’t realise how much I knew until I started my internship. I spend quite a bit of time on Facebook and twitter, but I had no idea that could actually help me in my job.

I’d encourage everyone to really focus on showcasing their digital skills and thinking about how they could be important in the job they’re applying for. Not everyone has these skills naturally, so make sure you make the most of them and champion the value of them to potential employees.”
For more background and information on the research you can visit our media centre. For information on opportunities at o2 you can visit o2careers.co.uk.