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


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'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'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

    Comment number 93.

    These bogus thoughts are printed repeated by BBC!!!!, even in the year 2013.........and hope its going to continue for another hundred years...., Most of the older folks in controlling positions have exceptional limited computer skills that's the truth, look around who is building platforms,bill gates & Co, can't take their platforms to the next levels...msft will be a dead beast sooner or later

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Poor IT skills? In my experience (30+ years in IT) it is largely abysmally poor form design on online forms. Designers need to realise who they are targeting with these application forms and not assume arcane internal bureaucratic knowledge - oops I assumed someone actually did design work on them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Unfortunately, large numbers of people today like to be thick, it's somewhat fashionable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.


    reminds me of an email/urban myth many years ago:

    a telephone IT support was threatened with disciplinary action after being rude to a caller: after going through qestions on a check list the caller revealed there's a power cut in the office.

    Computer illterate is preferable compared to this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Total rubbish. Most youngsters have good IT skills."

    I would agreed but its possibly " InIT' skills rather than IT skills that most young people possess! HRH Prince Phillip recently said " The Philippines must be empty as they are all working in the health service". There are jobs here but the vast majority of our youngsters have a bad attitude to work generally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    I'm not being funny, but Will.I.Am.? I'm sorry, but I can't take anyone seriously who wears sunglasses indoors (unless they've cataracts), uses punctuation in their names and can't keep his eyes still when trying to make an intelligent point!

    Once again, I think I'm getting old. Someone please tell me I'm not getting old! (I'm 31).

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    So, he/she needs more IT skills?

    Perhaps he/she should try to learn some basic maths first.....and maybe some English? Being able to read and write properly would be a good start!

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    People often think young people have IT skills but knowing how to use an iPhone or playing call of duty does not count. You can teach someone how to follow instructions 'click here to do this' but that doesn't really help with understanding the principles so when things don't go according to the script you are left in the dark. Better education is the key but that will require skilled IT teachers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Just go in any IT company and you ll find only imported skills.

    The next time that BBC writes an article about business complaining about the lack of immigration, then you might want to revisit this article.

    Perhaps if Prince paid some tax, the goverment could train a number of youth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    There is no excuse for kids to leave school without basic IT skills (Windows/Office). They are given access to computers now from an early age at school and those who come away completely clueless ought to look in the mirror if they are looking for somebody to blame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    All an I pad does is increase the market base for ppl wanting to buy things. It has nothing to do with education other than principally teaching you how to purchase products.

    Want to learn programming?, then dig out your old commodore 64 or BBC Acorn

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I know some who used to work in IT support, he once had a lady who was having problems with her PC he told her she needed to close all windows, after a few minutes she came back on the phone to let him know she'd checked her house and all the windows were shut.
    It's not just kids that are computer illiterate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Just a small thing. Good for but, before ICT how about learning to write correctly with things like full stops and spelling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Continued...I do think there needs to be a balance at school between traditional teaching and technology. Get the core skills right first, probably through more traditional methods, and use technology to partially support consolidation of basics, in addition to supporting future living / working / well-being.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.


    waxing lyrical about academic failures who became "IT" saviours of the universe should be a little objective.

    pupils with discalculia or dyspraxia are UNLIKELY to be the champions you alluded to, & dyslexia comes in various forms & various degrees.

    For the "I was bad at school" bandwagon riders, weakness in Maths or object orientation won't make IT troubleshooters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Poor IT skills among the young? How is this possible when everything that people does is on a computer? Every single young person is on Facebook, Twitter, Beebo or something like that. I must be getting old! (I'm 31).

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

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

    This article seems to confuse two things

    Being able to use IT for day to day work & Computer Science.
    I'd suggest that the majority of kids can already do the former - but have no interest in the latter
    Yes, give kids an opportunity to develop an interest in IT if they want it - but teach all kids the skills for "normal" workplace

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    IT skills (office work) aren't the issue, it is software development and computer science skills that are a problem.

    Employers are far to picky and unwilling to train people for the specific skills they want. There are many different software technologies, it's impossible to know them all, yet employers churn out long lists of requirements for one job vacancy, expecting someone to have them all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    When I learned 'IT' at school, I was taught by the Art teacher.

    We opened (an admittedly rather primitive version of) Excel. She showed us how to select a cell, and enter a number, then another, etc. until there were 8 numbers in the column.

    We then took out a caluclator, added up the numbers and typed the sum at the bottom.

    What chance did I have until I taught myself? I now write VB.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    "I have to say the many of this 8-9 out of 10 who say they are skilled in IT have no discipline at all in the use of ICT."

    Basing what someone thinks they know based on a number is a flawed strategy to begin with. What if someone says they're 8-10 because they studied a number of valid I.T courses which are necessary?


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