Parents' analogue ambition could damage UK competitiveness

  • Three quarters of a million digitally skilled workers are needed to fuel UK economic growth[1]
  • Over one third (38%) of parents would prefer their children to pursue traditional professional careers

At a time when UK PLC is crying out for young digital talent to help fuel economic growth, a new poll commissioned by O2 sheds light on parents’ analogue ambition for their children[2].

The analysis of the views of more than 2,000 parents from across the UK revealed that a significant proportion (38%) would prefer their children to pursue ‘traditional’ career routes rather than so called modern ‘digital’ careers. Surprisingly, as many as one in ten (10%) admitted they would actively discourage their child from pursuing a digitally focused career.

At the same time, analysis by jobs website Monster.co.uk provides evidence of the growing demand for digital jobs. Of the tens of thousands of roles currently posted on their site, vacancies within the ICT category represent more than one fifth (22%) of the total.[3]

Most worryingly, the O2 poll results highlight a disturbing disconnect between the skills in demand from UK employers and those skills valued by many parents, with many seemingly oblivious of the growing importance of digital skills in all walks of life:

  • Almost a quarter (23%) believe digital skills are irrelevant to their children’s future career success
  • One in five (18%) don’t think employers care about digital skills

Perhaps the most important outtake from the consultation is that a lack of knowledge could be at the heart of the issue. With one in three parents (38%) admitting they simply don’t know enough about the digital economy to help their children make informed career choices.

Ann Pickering, HR Director at O2, said: “The digital revolution has transformed not just the way we work, but the way we live. With many businesses now on the hunt for skills and expertise that simply didn’t exist ten years ago, it’s no surprise some parents are struggling to keep pace.

“The growth of the digital economy presents a huge opportunity for young people – they possess native digital talent but they need the right support both at school and at home. What’s clear is that some parents want a helping hand so that they can provide that vital support. That’s where we come in, businesses like O2 can play a big role helping equip parents with the information they need to guide their families in a fast changing digital world.”

Andrew Sumner, Monster’s Managing Director, UK and Ireland, added: “It’s clear from our numbers, and the conversations we’ve had with employers who use Monster’s services, that digital skills are in demand at all levels. Even if young people do choose to pursue a more traditional career path, they will still need a solid set of digital skills to be considered for a role.”

Building on O2’s commitment to unlock young people’s digital potential, including the acclaimed national GoThink Big work experience platform, O2 is ramping up its support for both parents and young people to help them navigate the fast changing digital world.


 

[1] Taken from The Future Digital Skills Needs of the UK economy – an independent research report carried out by Development Economics, commissioned by O2 (2013)

[2] According to The Future Digital Skills Needs of the UK economy, more than one fifth (169,000 – 182,000) of the jobs needed to support economic growth are suited to young people

[3] Jobs analysis carried out in May 2014 by Monster.co.uk